Tag Archives: tai chi

Consider Tai Chi …

I have had great success with yoga over the years, but tai chi comes heavily recommended by people whose opinions I respect. I took some classes in it and enjoyed them, but never felt as totally exercised as I did with yoga. Herewith a breakdown of this gentle martial art.

Tai chi is a non-competitive martial art known for its self-defense techniques and health benefits. As a form of exercise, it combines gentle physical exercise and stretching with mindfulness.

photo a man and woman doing martial arts

Photo by Craig Adderley on Pexels.com

Research has produced mixed results but appears to show that tai chi can improve balance control, fitness, and flexibility, and might cut the risk of falls in older people.

Tai chi also appears to reduce pain and the symptoms of depression in some cases.

The martial art is an ancient Chinese tradition that has evolved over centuries. To its advocates, it has become a means of alleviating stress and anxiety, a form of “meditation in motion.” Its supporters claim that it promotes serenity and inner peace.

It is safe for people of all ages, as it does not put too much stress on the muscles and joints.

This article explores the documented evidence for the benefits of tai chi.

Benefits

Various research suggests the benefits of tai chi might include improved balance, pain management, and cognitive function in people with and without chronic conditions.

Other possible benefits include improved sleep quality and an enhanced immune system. Continue reading

9 Comments

Filed under aging, Exercise, exercise benefits, falls, successful aging, tai chi

Exercise ideas for hot weather

As regular readers know, I feel strongly about the great outdoors, savoring the experience of it as well as exercising outdoors. Summer has made its presence known with a vengeance this year and there is a time and a place for everything.

Tips-For-Exercising-In-Hot-Weather-610x350.jpg

I have been riding my bike around sunrise lately as a method of avoiding the oppressive heat. I am 76 years old and in excellent shape, but my doctor said that she tells even her 40-year-olds not to push exercise in extreme heat. You can check out my Page – How to deal with extreme heat for lots more examples.

Meanwhile the Go4Life folks offer the following excellent suggestions for heat extremes:

 •    Walk on the treadmill, ride the stationary bike, or use the rowing machine that’s gathering dust in your bedroom or basement. Or use one at a nearby gym or fitness center.
    •    Work out with an exercise DVD. You can get a free one from Go4Life.
    •    Go bowling with friends.
    •    Join a local mall walking group.
    •    Walk around an art gallery or museum to catch a new exhibit.
    •    Check out an exercise class at your neighborhood Y.
    •    If you like dancing, take a Zumba® or salsa class.
    •    Try yoga or Tai Chi.
    •    Go to the gym and work on your strength, balance, and flexibility exercises or set up your own home gym. All you need is a sturdy chair, a towel, and some weights. Soup cans or water bottles will do if you don’t have your own set of weights.
    •    Go to an indoor pool and swim laps or try water aerobics
    •    How about a game of indoor tennis, hockey, basketball, or soccer?
    •    Go indoor ice skating or roller skating.
    •    Maybe it’s time for some heavy duty cleaning. Vacuum, mop, sweep. Dust those hard-to-reach areas.

Tony

2 Comments

Filed under Exercise, hot weather

Chinese Exercises May Help Heart Health

I have written about Tai Chi previously. I always considered it a healthy form of physical exercise, good for the muscles, bones and mind. So, I was not totally surprised to learn that there are other benefits, too, new research shows.

Traditional Chinese exercises such as Tai Chi may improve the health and well-being of those living with heart disease, high blood pressure or stroke, according to new research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

“Traditional Chinese exercises are a low-risk, promising intervention that could be helpful in improving quality of life in patients with cardiovascular diseases  — the leading cause of disability and death in the world,” said Yu Liu, Ph.D., study co-author, and dean of the School of Kinesiology, at Shanghai University of Sport in China. “But the physical and psychological benefits to these patients of this increasingly popular form of exercise must be determined based on scientific evidence.”

image1.jpeg

Chen Pei-Jie, Ph.D., the study’s lead author and president of Shanghai University of Sport in China and his team reviewed 35 studies, including 2,249 participants from 10 countries. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under tai chi, Uncategorized

8 Techniques to Relieve Pain – Harvard

Everyone experiences pain at some time in their life. As Harvard says in this latest HEALTHbeat, “Sometimes pain has a purpose — it can alert us that we’ve sprained an ankle, for example. But for many people, pain can linger for weeks or even months, causing needless suffering and interfering with quality of life.”

As an old retired guy who suffers from arthritis in the hands, I understand how pain can lower the quality of your life and I welcome any advice on relieving it.

Tai_Chi_Club_Logo_Design_by_jusamovebout

“If your pain has overstayed its welcome, you should know that you have more treatment options today than ever before. Here, we’ve listed eight techniques to control and reduce your pain that don’t require an invasive procedure — or even taking a pill.”

1. Cold and heat. These two tried-and-true methods are still the cornerstone of relieving pain for certain kinds of injuries. If a homemade hot or cold pack doesn’t do the trick, try asking a physical therapist or chiropractor for their versions of these treatments, which can penetrate deeper into the muscle and tissue.

2. Exercise. Physical activity plays a crucial role in interrupting the “vicious cycle” of pain and reduced mobility found in some chronic conditions such as arthritis and fibromyalgia. Try gentle aerobic activities such as walking, swimming, or cycling.

3. Physical therapy and occupational therapy. These two specialties can be among your staunchest allies in the fight against pain. Physical therapists guide you through a series of exercises designed to preserve or improve your strength and mobility. Occupational therapists help you learn to perform a range of daily activities in a way that doesn’t aggravate your pain.

4. Mind-body techniques. These techniques, which include meditation, mindfulness, and breathing exercises (among many others), help you restore a sense of control over your body and turn down the “fight or flight” response, which can worsen chronic muscle tension and pain.

5. Yoga and tai chi. These two exercise practices incorporate breath control, meditation, and gentle movements to stretch and strengthen muscles. Many studies have shown that they can help people manage pain caused by a host of conditions, from headaches to arthritis to lingering injuries.

6. Biofeedback. This technique involves learning relaxation and breathing exercises with the help of a biofeedback machine, which turns data on physiological functions (such as heart rate and blood pressure) into visual cues such as a graph, a blinking light, or even an animation. Watching and modifying the visualizations gives you a degree of control over your body’s response to pain.

7. Music therapy. Studies have shown that music can help relieve pain during and after surgery and childbirth. Classical music has proven to work especially well, but there’s no harm in trying your favorite genre — listening to any kind of music can distract you from pain or discomfort.

8. Therapeutic massage. Not just an indulgence, massage can ease pain by working tension out of muscles and joints, relieving stress and anxiety, and possibly helping to distract you from pain by introducing a “competing” sensation that overrides pain signals.

For more on treating common pain conditions and learning about other mind-body solutions, you can order Pain Relief, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.

Tony

2 Comments

Filed under Harvard, Pain relief

What are the five best exercises?

Not everyone likes to work out. I see the cross fitters in the park and they don’t look like they are enjoying themselves a bit. On the other hand, everyone’s body needs to get exercise regularly. Adults should get at least 2.5 hours of moderate intensity exercise a week, or 1.25 hours of vigorous aerobic physical activity or some combination of the above.

Harvard HEALTHbeat offered the following: “If you’re not an athlete or serious exerciser — and want to work out for your health or to fit in your clothes better — the gym scene can be intimidating. Just having to walk by treadmills, stationary bikes, and weight machines can be enough to make you head straight back home to the couch.

“Yet some of the best physical activities for your body don’t require the gym or require you to get fit enough to run a marathon. These “workouts” can do wonders for your health. They’ll help keep your weight under control, improve your balance and range of motion, strengthen your bones, protect your joints, prevent bladder control problems, and even ward off memory loss. No matter your age or fitness level, these activities can help you get in shape and lower your risk for disease:

1.    Swimming. You might call swimming the perfect workout. The buoyancy of the water supports your body and takes the strain off painful joints so you can move them more fluidly. “Swimming is good for individuals with arthritis because it’s less weight-bearing,” explains Dr. I-Min Lee, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. 
Research finds that swimming can improve your mental state and put you in a better mood. Water aerobics is another option. These classes help you burn calories and tone up.

Tai Chi is called meditation in motion. It is excellent for seniors because it helps balance.

Tai Chi is called meditation in motion. It is excellent for seniors because it helps balance.

2.    Tai chi. Tai chi — a Chinese martial art that incorporates movement and relaxation — is good for both body and mind. In fact, it’s been called “meditation in motion.” Tai chi is made up of a series of graceful movements, one transitioning smoothly into the next. Because the classes are offered at various levels, tai chi is accessible, and valuable, for people of all ages and fitness levels. “It’s particularly good for older people because balance is an important component of fitness, and balance is something we lose as we get older,” Dr. Lee says.

Take a class to help you get started and learn the proper form. You can find tai chi programs at your local YMCA, health club, community center, or senior center. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under aging, Exercise, tai chi

Four Ways Exercise Helps With Arthritis – Harvard

I have suffered from arthritis in my hands for over 20 years and gone through a number of methods of dealing with the pain. I wrote about all of them earlier this week.. You can read How do I get relief from arthritis in my hands for the details.

So, I naturally was excited to see that the Harvard HEALTHbeat had just published a piece on exercise helping arthritis. First of all because arthritis pain can be brutal and secondly because eat less; move more; live longer is the mantra of this blog.

picture-372

“Even the healthiest people can find it hard to stick with an exercise regimen — and if you suffer from the joint pain of arthritis, moving your body may be the last thing you want to think about. But regular exercise not only helps maintain joint function, but also relieves stiffness and reduces pain and fatigue.

If you have arthritis, you want to be sure your exercise routine has these goals in mind:

1. A better range of motion (improved joint mobility and flexibility). To increase your range of motion, move a joint as far as it can go and then try to push a little farther. These exercises can be done any time, even when your joints are painful or swollen, as long as you do them gently. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under aging, arthritis, Exercise, Harvard, harvard health letter, health, Weight

What Are Two of the Best Physical Workouts? – Harvard

No matter what your level of fitness or age, these activities can help you get in shape and lower your risk of disease, so says Harvard Healthbeat from Harvard Medical School.

In their latest publication, Exercise, they write that you don’t have to be an athlete or serious exerciser to get into shape.

“…some of the best physical activities for your body don’t require the gym or that you get fit enough to run a marathon. These ‘workouts’ can do wonders for your health. They’ll help keep your weight under control, improve your balance and range of motion, strengthen your bones, protect your joints, prevent bladder control problems, and even ward off memory loss.

“No matter your age or fitness level, these activities can help you get in shape and lower your risk for disease:

“1.Swimming. You might call swimming the perfect workout. The buoyancy of the water supports your body and takes the strain off painful joints so you can move them more fluidly. “Swimming is good for individuals with arthritis because it’s less weight bearing,” explains Dr. I-Min Lee, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
Continue reading

3 Comments

Filed under aging, arthritis, biking, brain, Exercise, happiness, tai chi, Weight

The Power and Benefits of Relaxation

Back in January I wrote about stress and you can click Stress Can Kill You if you missed it . I have learned more about stress and want to share that with you now. Stress inhibits normal functions of your body that it needs daily. It also supercharges other functions that are harmful to your body.

We have run several items on stress relief, primarily through exercise. The need to ‘blow off steam.’ Exercise does wonders for us as regular readers know, but in terms of the challenge of stress, it is more of a band aid cure or a crutch.

Hence, relaxation. I’m not talking about sitting on the couch with your feet up eating a bag of Cheetos and watching the tube. Many overweight people really suffer from bad coping strategies. If you deal with stress by diving into a pint of Rocky Road ice cream, read on. You may get a handle on your weight problem.

As the diaphragm moves lower the lungs are able to take in much more air.

According to The Mayo Clinic, “Relaxation techniques are an essential part of your quest for stress management. Relaxation isn’t just about peace of mind or enjoying a hobby. Relaxation is a process that decreases the wear and tear on your mind and body from the challenges and hassles of daily life.
“Whether your stress is spiraling out of control or you’ve already got it tamed, you can benefit from learning relaxation techniques. Learning basic relaxation techniques is easy, often free or low cost, and poses little risk. Explore these simple relaxation techniques to get you started on de-stressing your life and improving your health.

The benefits of relaxation techniques
“With so many things to do, relaxation techniques may take a back seat in your life. But that means you might miss out on the health benefits of relaxation.
“Practicing relaxation techniques can reduce stress symptoms by:
• Slowing your heart rate
• Lowering blood pressure
• Slowing your breathing rate
• Increasing blood flow to major muscles
• Reducing muscle tension and chronic pain
• Improving concentration and mental focus
• Reducing anger, fear, frustration and jealousy
• Boosting confidence to handle problems
Continue reading

9 Comments

Filed under brain, men's health, relaxation, stress