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T’ai Chi and Medical Conditions

One of the factors that make T’ai Chi an outstanding way of keeping active is that, unlike other forms of exercise, it can be performed safely even in the presence of medical conditions, including some of the most debilitating.

Take stroke for example. Many stroke survivors are unable to move an arm or leg. This makes it difficult for them to exercise regularly, which instead is a key to full recovery. Yet, in a new study by the University of Arizona, in the US, a group of patients, who had a stroke at least three months before, were able to practice T’ai Chi successfully three times per week for fifteen weeks, without experiencing any side effect. Consider that each of the three weekly sessions lasted 50 minutes, which is a significant amount of time for someone who has recently survived a stroke.

And there’s more. Because of its safety profile, T’ai Chi has become a preferred form of exercise for patients with a dementia illness, such as Alzheimer’s disease. And note: these patients are at very high risk of exercise-related adverse events, particularly falls.

There is also research indicating that people who have, or are at risk of, heart disease can practice T’ai Chi safely, and experience significant benefits, as a result. So much so that researchers at the University of Nevada, who conducted one the latest studies on this topic, said that T’ai Chi represents a “safe alternative exercise… [which] may help prevent or even reverse the progression of cardiac disease.”

In addition to all this, T’ai Chi has the great advantage that it can be used safely also in the presence of medical problems most of us are likely to suffer from at some point in our life. Here are the two most common of these problems and simple strategies to address them, as recommended by the Australian Tai Chi for Health Institute:

  • Shoulder problems. Slowly perform any movement involving this part of your body, especially when raising your hands above the head.
  • Knee problems. Stand up between movements, instead of keeping your knee bent.

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