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Tai Chi Healthways Association provides Tai Chi instructors and Tai Chi practitioners the evidence of Tai Chi benefits from medical research and other popular media.  Some well-established benefits of Tai Chi include: it improves balance to prevent falls, Tai Chi has preventative effects on heart disease, Tai Chi slows the progression of arthritis, Tai Chi slows the progression of Alzheimer's, Tai Chi can help lower blood pressure, Tai Chi is useful as stress management, and Tai Chi improves immunity. 


The Times of India: Tai chi more effective than yoga?

TNN Sep 18, 2013, 12.00AM IST

This graceful form of martial exercise is being touted as the more effective option to yoga.

After years of being exalted as an exotic form of martial arts, Tai chi is now seen by the medic world has an answer to most physical grievances. Week after week, researches are bringing to light the many healing benefits of this form, which includes it being beneficial to people suffering from osteoarthritis, diabetes, musculoskeletial pain triggered from working on computers. It is also being looked upon as an alternative option to yoga.

Tai chi is a series of bodily movements that's performed in a slow and graceful manner, each movement flows to the next without a pause. The technique was first introduced by a Taoist monk who got his inspiration from watching a crane and snake at war. Says Sensei Sandeep Desai, "Tai chi is largely under-utilised here! I've been teaching Tai chi for more than two decades, and I see only those who are spiritually inclined trying to learn this form. But Tai chi is more than just a form that helps you spiritually or helps you attain flexibility. It's an internal form of martial arts, deep and profound. It is not meant for instant gratification or instantaneous results."

Purnima Shah feels that Tai chi helped to bring an attitudinal change in her when dealing with chronic back problems. "It instilled a more positive attitude, and helped me divert my mind from the pain. The pain has reduced to large extend, and my body is no longer stiff, " she shares.

About Tai chi being seen as a better form of yoga. "I have specialised in both tai chi and hathyoga. The stretch in tai chi is not done at the cost of causing discomfort. This is significant, as when you stretch beyond a certain point, the body goes into a shock and recoil state, this is bad in the long run. Tai chi does not encourage that, and usually follows the movements of a cat. Sleep and stretch just enough to be able to spring back into action," explains Desai.

With varied benefits like efficient breathing, flexibility, balance, calm and reduction of stress hormones with minimum effort, it's not surprising that tai chi is taking over yoga.

http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-09-18/fitness/38709621_1_taoist-monk-movements-sensei-sandeep-desai


The Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi: 12 Weeks to a Healthy Body, Strong Heart, and Sharp Mind [Paperback]

Conventional medical science on the Chinese art of Tai Chi now shows what Tai Chi masters have known for centuries: regular practice leads to more vigor and flexibility, better balance and mobility, and a sense of well-being. Cutting-edge research from Harvard Medical School also supports the long-standing claims that Tai Chi also has a beneficial impact on the health of the heart, bones, nerves and muscles, immune system, and the mind. This research provides fascinating insight into the underlying physiological mechanisms that explain how Tai Chi actually works.

Dr. Peter M. Wayne, a longtime Tai Chi teacher and a researcher at Harvard Medical School, developed and tested protocols similar to the simplified program he includes in this book, which is suited to people of all ages, and can be done in just a few minutes a day.

R Book Review:

“The Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi is a significant milestone in the integration of Eastern and Western medicine. It deftly summarizes the scientific evidence for the healing potential of this traditional Chinese system of body movement and gives readers practical advice for using it in everyday life. I recommend it highly.”—Andrew Weil, MD, Professor of Medicine, University of Arizona, and author of 8 Steps to Optimum Health

“Dr. Wayne gives us a magnificent and useful contribution for the betterment of our health and well-being through the proper integration of Tai Chi into our lives.”—Herbert Benson, MD, author of The Relaxation Response and Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School

http://www.amazon.com/The-Harvard-Medical-School-Guide/dp/1590309421/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1363235974&sr=8-1&keywords=harvard+medical+school+guide+to+tai+chi


Peter Harmer's Tai Chi study chosen as a top story by Journal Watch Neurology

Exercise science professor Peter Harmer’s publication in The New England Journal of Medicine has been selected as a Top 10 story of 2012 by Journal Watch Neurology.

Harmer’s study, "Tai Chi and postural stability in patients with Parkinson's disease," was also recognized by the American Academy of Neurology as the most important advance in movement disorders research for 2012.

His accomplishment resulted from a 24-week study, which was published in the Feb. 9, 2012 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.

Harmer and his colleagues found that patients who participated in a tailored Tai Chi program experienced improved balance and functional capacity. The study compared the effects of Tai Chi, resistance training, and stretching on patients. The researchers discovered that the Tai Chi group performed consistently better than the other groups in maximum excursion and directional control.

They also found that Tai Chi lowered the frequency of falls among the patients more than stretching and was more effective at increasing stride length than resistance training.

The New England Journal of Medicine is the most widely read and cited general medical periodical in the world, with more than 600,000 readers in 177 countries each week and more citations in scientific literature than any other medical journal. As the oldest continuously published medical periodical, the journal provides physicians with peer-reviewed research at the intersection of biomedical science and clinical practice.

http://willamette.edu/news/library/2013/03/peter_harmer.html


Harvard Medical School

February 14, 2013

Exercise: An effective prescription for joint pain

Joint pain can rob you of life’s simple pleasures — you may no longer look forward to walking your dog, gardening, or chasing a tennis ball across the court. Even the basics of getting through your day, like getting into the car or carrying laundry to the basement, can become sharp reminders of your limitations.

Common causes of joint pain include arthritis, previous injuries, the strain of repetitive movements, posture problems, aging, or inactivity. It is tempting to avoid the motions that cause you pain. But limiting your movements can weaken muscles and make joint trouble even worse.

But the right exercises performed properly can be a long-lasting way to subdue ankle, knee, hip, or shoulder pain. For some people, the right exercise routine can even help delay or side step surgery.

Tai chi is one of the best exercvise!


Tai Chi Might Help Stroke Survivors Avoid Falls

Small study suggests the ancient art helps maintain physical balance

February 6, 2013 RSS Feed Print

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 6 (HealthDay News) -- The ancient Chinese discipline of Tai Chi may help modern-day stroke patients avoid debilitating falls, a small new study suggests.

Stroke survivors suffer seven times as many falls as healthy adults. These falls can cause fractures, decrease mobility and increase the fear of falling, which can lead to social isolation or dependence on others, the researchers noted.

"Learning how to find and maintain your balance after a stroke is a challenge," lead author Ruth Taylor-Piliae, an assistant professor at the University of Arizona College of Nursing, in Tucson, said in an American Stroke Association news release.

Taylor-Piliae's team tracked 89 people, who had an average age of 70 and had suffered a stroke an average of three years before the start of the study. Twenty-eight of the patients received usual care, 31 were assigned to a national fitness program for Medicare-eligible seniors called SilverSneakers and 30 practiced Tai Chi.

Tai Chi, an exercise routine that dates back to ancient China, includes physical movement, mental concentration and relaxed breathing.

The people in the Tai Chi and SilverSneakers programs did one-hour classes three times a week for 12 weeks. The usual-care group received a weekly phone call and written material about physical activity.

During the three months of the study, the participants suffered a total of 34 falls in their homes, mainly from slipping or tripping. There were 15 falls in the usual-care group, 14 falls in the SilverSneakers group and only five falls in the Tai Chi group, according to the findings, which were to be presented Wednesday at the annual meeting of the American Stroke Association in Honolulu.

"Tai Chi is effective in improving both static and dynamic balance, which is important to prevent falls," Taylor-Piliae said. She added that Tai Chi is also "readily available in most U.S. cities and is relatively inexpensive."

One stroke expert not connected to the study said he's seen the discipline's benefits firsthand.

"Tai Chi is an exercise form that emphasizes balance, core strength and integration of mind and body in movement," said Dr. Jesse Weinberger, professor of neurology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, in New York City. "It has previously been shown to improve motor function and prevent falls in the elderly and in patients with Parkinson's disease.

"In addition to being a vascular neurologist, I also practice the Yang style of the Tai Chi form and I have several patients in my class who have had strokes or have Parkinson's and they show improvement in balance and coordination," Weinberger said.

"The main benefit of Tai Chi for the stroke patient is the integration of mind and body through meditation in motion to improve motor control," he said.

Taylor-Piliae agreed that Tai Chi offers a wide range of benefits beyond the physical. "Psycho-social benefits include less depression, anxiety and stress, and better quality of life," she said.

Findings presented at medical meetings should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

The link: http://tinyurl.com/b6gnm3q


BBC News Online: (Medical Research) Tai Chi Proven to Treat Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, Lower Back Pain January 8, 2013

For arthritis, they found 53 trials of 14 different therapies among nearly 6,000 patients. Only tai chi and acupuncture appeared to work.

For fibromyalgia there were 50 trials of 17 different therapies in more than 3,000 patients. Acupuncture and massage came out top, closely followed by tai chi and relaxation therapy ...

For sore backs, yoga and acupuncture appeared the most effective, and there was some evidence to also support the use of osteopathy and relaxation therapy as well as the Alexander technique which focuses on posture and movement.

Lower back pain was the most investigated condition, with 75 trials of 14 different therapies across over 11,600 participants.

According to the lead author of the report, Dr Gareth Jones from the University of Aberdeen, there is very little evidence for most complementary therapies.

"There's either no evidence that they're effective or there's some evidence that they are not effective.

"But there are some exceptions, like acupuncture and the whole body therapies like massage and tai chi, which do appear to work."

-- Michelle Roberts, Health Editor, BBC News Online:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-20937753


Harvard Health Publications - "Try tai chi to improve balance and avoid falls" August 2012

"...With its integrative approach that strengthens the body while focusing the mind, tai chi addresses a range of physical and mental health issues—including bone strength, joint stability, cardiovascular health, immunity, and emotional well-being. Tai chi is especially useful for improving balance and preventing falls—a major concern for older adults.

Studies have shown tai chi to reduce falls in seniors by up to 45%, Dr. Wayne says. It can also improve balance in people with neurological problems. A recent study in The New England Journal of Medicine found the program particularly effective for balance in people with Parkinson’s disease.

Tai chi helps improve balance because it targets all the physical components needed to stay upright—leg strength, flexibility, range of motion, and reflexes—all of which tend to decline with age..."


Tai Chi to Combat Stress and Improve Your Brain

By Kathrine Ayers | Yahoo! Contributor Network – Wed, Jul 11, 2012 3:47 PM EDT

In Chinese, "tai chi" directly translates as "supreme ultimate". Originally, tai chi was developed as a self-defense strategy that eventually evolved as a graceful form of exercise. Today, this ancient exercise is known in Chinese culture as being the "supreme ultimate" for your body. Tai chi is meditation in motion as its peaceful constant movements connects the body to the mind.

What Style Is Best for You There are different types of tai chi and are differentiated by their rhythms. Yang tai chi is the type most commonly practiced in the United States and is characterized by even and slow movements. A derivative of the Yang is Wu tai chi. Wu tai chi takes most of its slow and even movements from the former, but then interjects some smaller and more compact rhythms. Individuals with varying fitness levels can practice these two forms of tai chi, but it is most suited for the elderly and the disabled. Then there is also the Chen tai chi, which alternates from slow rhythms to more rapid ones. This style requires coordination and could strain the knees and back. You would need to be more physically fit to participate in this style.

The Basics

Interconnectedness is the foundation of tai chi. Fluidity between body parts and movements is essential. You should never stop or break between movements. Though tai chi has individual moves for each body part, it is important to focus on transitioning them slowly from one move to the next. This will train your mind to focus on the present movements. Tai-chi is self-paced and non-competitive. This ancient exercise is all about achieving a relaxed state by connecting the mind and body.

Tai chi As Stress-Buster Tai chi brings the mind and body together. When engaging in this exercise, you must have complete focus on your movements and breathing. Focusing on the present creates a meditative state that promotes calmness and relaxation. When you find that your mind is wandering, simply catch yourself and focus once again at the present moment.

Unfortunately, the long-term benefits of tai chi have not been studies. But preliminary research has shown that tai chi does improve one's health. It is known to lower blood pressure, improve balance, alleviate depression, relieve chronic pain and increase energy.

A recent Harvard study has even found that tai chi can improve your brain functions. According to Harvard Medical Instructor, Catherine Kerr, "Tai chi is a very interesting form of training because it combines a low-intensity aerobic exercise with a complex, learned, motor sequence. Meditation, motor learning, and attentional focus have all been shown in numerous studies to be associated with training-related changes-including, in some cases, changes in actual brain structure-in specific cortical regions."


Prevention: Tai Chi: The No-Sweat Way to Boost Immunity

November 2011

Prevent colds and flu with this easy 20-minute workout By Marianne McGinnis

To keep sick days at bay, trade your vitamin C in for a dose of tai chi. It's cheaper, more effective (revving up your body's disease-fighting defenses by as much as 47%), and even triples the protection you get from a flu shot. The secret to tai chi's elixir-like quality, scientists suspect, lies in its slow movements and controlled breathing. Tai chi then marshals the power of both to fight germs. It also zaps stress and helps you to sleep better--both key to a healthy immune system. Get started today with our no-sweat 20-minute routine--you don't even need to change!

Read more: http://www.prevention.com/fitness/fitness-tips/boost-your-immune-system-naturally-tai-chi#ixzz2KKHS7RVc


Time Magazine - "Why Tai Chi is the Perfect Exercise" August 2002

"It's easy to tell people to make exercise part of their daily routine. It's not so easy to tell them what to do. Some folks like to run marathons or climb mountains. But if you would rather care for your body without risking life or limb or increasingly creaky joints, you might consider Tai Chi Chuan, the ancient martial art that looks like a cross between shadow boxing and slow-motion ballet... Practitioners praise Tai Chi's spiritual and psychological benefits, but what has attracted the attention of Western scientists lately is what Tai Chi does for the body. In many ways, researchers are just catching up to what tens of millions of people in China and Chinatowns around the rest of the world already know about Tai Chi. Scientists at the Oregon Research Institute in Eugene reported last week that Tai Chi offers the greatest benefit to older men and women who are healthy but relatively inactive. Previous studies have shown that Tai Chi practiced regularly helps reduce falls among healthy seniors. The next step, from a scientific point of view, is to determine whether Tai Chi can help those who are already frail..."


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