If slow and steady can win the race of life in Aesop’s fable, then slow and gentle can sow a healthy mind and body in the form of tai chi.
A growing body of evidence suggests this form of exercise, which originated in China as a martial art, can improve strength, balance, flexibility and immunity, and can also help relieve pain, stress and anxiety. It’s those kinds of beneficial effects that tend to attract people to tai chi, especially individuals with chronic diseases such as arthritis, heart disease, diabetes and depression.
Because of its health benefits, tai chi is fast becoming an adjunct therapy to primary medical treatments and is catching on as more people learn about its effectiveness. This slow, low-impact form of exercise can not only improve physical health, but also promotes inner peace and tranquility.
“Tai chi offers incredible health benefits,” says Marsha Green, a certified tai chi instructor at Tidelands HealthPoint Center for Health and Fitness, our region’s only medical fitness center. “After practicing and learning tai chi, I was so hooked on it, I couldn’t stop doing it.”
Green’s class, offered Wednesdays at 10:45 a.m. at Tidelands HealthPoint, is geared toward people interested in increasing their strength, flexibility, balance and mental focus. All ages and ability levels are welcome.
Green teaches beginning forms of a variety of tai chi styles, including Sun, Yang and Chen. Yang is the most popular and widely practiced worldwide.
“It’s so soft and gentle,’’ she says. “The rule is you stay within your comfort zone. If you’re doing that, there’s very little chance of hurting yourself. It is great for stroke and cardiac rehabilitation or for anyone interested in learning tai chi.”