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Myths and truths about T’ai Chi

The advent of the Internet is certainly a good thing. It allows all of us to find a wealth of information about any imaginable topic. But here’s a catch: misconceptions and false beliefs can easily arise, in any field, leaving us wondering what is true and what is not. This applies to most anything, and T’ai Chi is no exception. Here is a list of the most common ‘myths’ about T’ai Chi followed by the real facts.

Myth:  T’ai Chi is only for older folks.

Truth: Nothing could be more far from the truth. This misconception is due to the fact that most of the initial research published on the benefits of T’ai Chi focused on the elderly. The reality is, T’ai Chi is practiced all over the world by an estimated 2.5 million people of all ages, including children.

Myth:  T’ai Chi is a sort of religion or cult.

Truth: T’ai Chi is neither of these things. It is a form of exercise originated from an ancient martial art. And it can be practiced by anyone – regardless of religious or other belief or background.

Myth:  T’ai Chi can be performed only in a standing position.

Truth: People in wheelchairs, or unable to stand for long periods of time, practice what is commonly referred to as chair or seated T’ai Chi. This kind of T’ai Chi is being offered in centers worldwide, and its therapeutic benefits have been confirmed in several studies.

Myth: Because its movements are performed slowly, T’ai Chi is less strenuous and, therefore, less effective than other forms of exercise.

Truth: There is evidence that T’ai Chi is as effective as, and in some cases even superior to, other forms of exercise. And it doesn’t carry the same risks. For example, if compared to aerobic exercise, such as walking, cycling, dancing, running or swimming, T’ai Chi does not exert pressure on the heart. Yet, its proven benefits are many and various, including decreased anxiety, stress and pain; improved heart and lung fitness; reduced risk of disease; improved balance; and increased muscle strength.

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