“Medication in motion”… sure, sounds nice, but should the title be taken literally when it comes to Tai Chi? Could Tai Chi really impact our health as much as a prescribed medication? Well, let’s start by looking at the research. But before we do, what is Tai Chi?
Tai Chi is an ancient practice often referred to as a moving meditation. However, it’s actually an internal style of martial arts. Every Tai Chi move is actually a fighting move (also known as a martial application). When you observe Tai Chi, see if you can identify the subtle slow sweeping block with a palm strike. In the Yang style of Tai Chi, the moves are typically practiced slowly which promotes a sense of well-being, increased balance, body awareness, and memory.
According to a Harvard Health, “5 of The Best Exercises You’ll Ever Do”, Tai Chi is the number two best exercise you’ll ever do! The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), National Institutes of Health (NIH), University of Southern California (USC), University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), Harvard, and the list goes on and on, have demonstrated the numerous health benefits of Tai Chi. In fact, there are over 2,100 studies in English published on Tai Chi.
Researchers have established that Tai Chi is beneficial for: balance, bone density, pain reduction, cardiovascular benefits, breathing (including COPD and asthma), brain health, and psychological well-being. There is even more exciting research listed below.
So back to our original question. Should we take the title literally, “Medication in Motion: Tai Chi”?
At SOHMA, we believe Tai Chi is literally a medication in motion. From the very beginning SOHMA healthcare providers have been utilizing Tai Chi as a therapeutic exercise for our patients. Not only is Tai Chi a great and effective physiotherapy, it’s fun! We’ve found that traditional physiotherapy exercises can often be repetitive and boring with low patient compliance. With Tai Chi, there is a progression from easy to advanced. The movements are both challenging and fun, while providing exceptional therapeutic benefits. The movements can easily be modified to work for special populations, like older adults or kids.
Would you like to learn more about how this is being prescribed and see what else we’re doing at SOHMA? Visit us at sohma.org, follow us on Instagram at SOHMA_health or come to one of our free weekly Tai Chi classes.
Here are some very interesting studies on Tai Chi that we’ll be discussing soon:
Effects of Tai Chi versus aerobic exercise for fibromyalgia: comparative effectiveness randomized controlled trial
BMJ 2018; 360 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.k851 (Published 21 March 2018)Cite this as: BMJ 2018;360:k851
The effects of Tai Chi on health outcomes in patients with chronic conditions: a systematic review.
Wang C1, Collet JP, Lau J.
Dose-Response Effects of Tai Chi and Physical Therapy Exercise Interventions in Symptomatic Knee Osteoarthritis.
Lee AC1, 2018 Jul;10(7):712-723. doi: 10.1016/j.pmrj.2018.01.003. Epub 2018 Jan 31. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29407226
Tai Chi Boosts Immunity to Shingles Virus in Older Adults, NIH-Sponsored Study Reports
Nature. 2006 Jul 27;442(7101):457-60.
Associations of Tai Chi, Walking, and Jogging With Mortality in Chinese Men
Na Wang Xianglan Zhang Yong-Bing Xiang Honglan Li Gong Yang Jing GaoWei Zheng Xiao-Ou Shu
American Journal of Epidemiology, Volume 178, Issue 5, 1 September 2013, Pages 791–796, https://doi.org/10.1093/aje/kwt050