Tai Chi is one of the most suitable exercises for the elderly

Tai Chi is not intimidating, elders instinctively feel they can do it, the movements are easy to learn, and its mystic roots make exercise not seem like a prescription. Yield and overcome; Bend and be straight... He who stands on tiptoe is not steady. He who strides cannot maintain the pace

Lao-tzu, (Chinese philosopher and founder of Taoism)Tai Chi Chuan can roughly be translated as the 'Supreme Ultimate Force'. In practical terms, it is a combination of yoga-like moves and meditation. Tai Chi resembles martial arts in slow motion, and according to Chinese philosophy it channels the flow of Qi (life force), and strengthens the mind, body and spirit. Tai Chi is one of the most popular forms of morning exercises for the elderly throughout Mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong.Tai chi is becoming popular in the West among non-Chinese communities too, and more and more doctors there are recommending it to their elderly patients.

Increased flexibility

The reason: this ancient form of exercise and meditation is a wonderful way to increase flexibility and relieve stress. Tai Chi is not intimidating, elders instinctively feel they can do it, the movements are easy to learn, and its mystic roots make exercise not seem like a prescription. There are five distinct styles of Tai Chi. Each has many variations. The Yang, Sun, Wu and Hao styles are the most gentle and suitable for arthritis patients. The Chen style involves brisk movements and is not for most people with arthritis. The concept of Qi is unprovable (much like God, the afterlife and feminine intuition), but the physical benefits of a systematic regime of Tai Chi are beyond doubt. Research suggests that elderly people who practise Tai Chi have fewer falls, probably because the gentle exercises stress on flexibility and shifting body weight on to different muscle groups.People with arthritis - even teenagers with juvenile arthritis, experience lesser pain (which means lower doses of painkilling drugs), increased range of movement and greater independence and quality of life with regular practice. The increased mental strength and calmness helps one cope better with long-term disability. Tai Chi does not improve aerobic capacity or muscle strength. Therefore, it is not a substitute for walking, swimming and weight training. A trained teacher is a must for learning this technique. Do not exercise with actively inflamed joints.R.M

More In: METRO PLUS | FEATURES