Tai chi might be the perfect form of exercise for older adults.
Unlike traditional forms of exercise, tai chi is low-impact and focuses on precise movements that allow the body to slowly transition from one position to the next. The movements are usually circular and never forced, the muscles are relaxed rather than tensed, the joints are not fully extended or bent and connective tissues are not stretched. As you move, you breathe deeply and naturally, focusing your attention — as in some kinds of meditation — on your bodily sensations.
Carmen Duren, Executive Director at Provident Village at Canton in Canton, GA, says, “Exercises such as tai chi and other activities that promote an active mind and body are a vital part of healthy living and healthy aging for older adults. This is why enlightened senior living communities such as Provident Village at Canton place such great emphasis on an active, vibrant living environment that emphasizes social engagement and regular wellness opportunities.
“The evidence shows that tai chi, which originated in China as a form of martial art, has significant value in preventing and treating many health problems that are common in senior adults today. And, the good news is that with your doctor’s approval, you can begin it even if you aren’t in top shape or perfect health.”
Tai Chi’s Proven Impact on Health and Wellness
No longer considered an obscure eastern art form, tai chi is now a highly popular mainstream exercise that is practiced by many Americans. Today, you’ll find it practiced everywhere from health clubs and public parks to senior centers and beyond. Its widespread adoption is due mainly to the numerous tangible benefits it provides.
Harvard Health claims that tai chi can improve symptoms of arthritis, high blood pressure and Parkinson's disease. Likewise, the Mayo Clinic advises that regular yoga sessions can reduce heart rate, lower blood pressure, relieve physical pain across the body and alleviate the symptoms of depression.
As further evidence, a study reported in the “Journal of the American Geriatrics Society” showed tai chi to be beneficial for improving balance while moving. The study found that “just 15 weeks of tai chi practice reduced the risk of falling by nearly one-half among participants age 70 and older.”
The Specific Benefits of Tai Chi
According to the Harvard Health article “The Health Benefits of Tai Chi,” tai chi is often described as “meditation in motion,” but it might as well be called “medication in motion.” While tai chi is slow and gentle and doesn’t leave you breathless, it addresses the key components of fitness — muscle strength, flexibility, balance and, to a lesser degree, aerobic conditioning.
Says internist Dr. Gloria Yeh, an Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School, “Although you aren’t working with weights or resistance bands, the unsupported arm exercise involved in tai chi strengthens your upper body. Tai chi strengthens both the lower and upper extremities and also the core muscles of the back and abdomen.”
In summary, the various health benefits associated with tai chi include:
- Increased flexibility
- Improved balance and stability
- Decreased levels of stress and anxiety
- Lower blood pressure and heart rate
- Reduced symptoms of physical pain
- A heightened sense of relaxation and improved sleep at night
- Reduced feelings of depression
- Better breathing patterns, which improves oxygen flow
- Increased social engagement
The benefits of tai chi are generally greatest if you begin before you develop a chronic illness or functional limitations. Tai chi is very safe and no fancy equipment is needed, so it’s easy to get started.
A Life That’s Healthy, Active and Fully Engaged
Adds Ms. Duren, “At Provident Village at Canton, our Live Vibrantly! approach to senior living focuses on total wellness in mind, body and spirit. Everything we do is designed to address intellectual, social, emotional, spiritual and physical well-being.
“From walking clubs to tai chi and yoga, strength training and more, our community strives to make every resource for active living available to our residents. Our specialized programming allows us to tailor activities to each person’s individual health requirements, physical abilities and personal goals. There’s something for everyone at Provident Village to keep you healthy, active and fully engaged in life.”
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At Provident Village at Canton we offer more than active, purposeful lifestyles; we are also an important resource for families.
We invite you to read our regular articles and tips on a variety of pertinent senior living topics . Also,we welcome you to view our schedule of free public educational events each month and hope you will join us for our highly informative programs.
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Live Vibrantly! at Provident Village at Canton
At Provident Village at Canton, we believe vibrant days ensure bright tomorrows, so we've created a community where seniors, quite simply, Live Vibrantly! Whether it's in our Assisted Living Community or Memory Care Neighborhood, each day we celebrate the individuality and strengths of each resident.
At Provident Village, to Live Vibrantly! means that days are filled with joy, vitality, growth and security. It means residents are socially active and personally empowered, with access to the personalized care and support they need to live fully. It means residing in a community where intellectual, social, emotional, spiritual and physical care are seamlessly integrated into everyday life.
Our compassionate Care Partners dedicate each day to enriching the lives of our residents. They customize the level of attention and activities to each resident's specific needs and abilities. Our living environments are warm and inviting, with comfortable furnishings, beautiful fixtures and natural elements that bring the outdoors inside.