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T’ai Chi: Not Just an ‘Adult Thing.’ It’s Good for Children, Too!

We all know that T’ai Chi is practiced by millions of adults globally, who experience major health benefits, in terms of improved mental and physical wellbeing. But T’ai Chi is not just an ‘adult thing.’ It is practiced, and with great results, by children as well.

Improved school performance

An increasing number of primary and secondary schools around the UK offers T’ai Chi classes to pupils as young as five. And both instructors and teachers are finding that this has positive effects, not only on the children’s physical abilities, but also on their intellectual and social skills. After T’ai Chi, children tend to have improved classroom behavior, are better able to concentrate, and achieve considerably higher exam results.

Major health benefits

There is also scientific evidence that practicing T’ai Chi regularly results in important health benefits for children. A new study, published last month in the journal Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, found this is true, in particular, for two of the most common medical conditions in children: asthma and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

The study looked at the research conducted to date on T’ai Chi in children. The research on ADHD, which is characterized by impulsivity and inability to concentrate, showed significant improvements in children who attended 30-minute T’ai Chi classes, twice a week for five weeks. “After the 10 Tai Chi sessions the adolescents displayed less anxiety, daydreaming behaviors, inappropriate emotions and hyperactivity,” says Dr. Tiffany Field, of the University of Miami. And these changes persisted for two weeks after the last T’ai Chi class.

The research on asthma showed improvements in children who participated in 40-minute T’ai Chi classes, held three times a week for twelve weeks. Comparisons between asthmatic children who did and did not practice T’ai Chi have found that the latter have fewer symptoms.

The message from the research and those who work with younger people is clear. T’ai Chi is a simple, and yet effective, way to improve the quality of life of our children. It is worth considering.

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