Tai Chi – the perfect exercise as we age

A Tai Chi class

A Tai Chi class

Tai Chi, which has grown in popularity throughout the world, is typified by slow, deliberate, repetitive movements and is based on co-ordination and relaxation rather than muscular tension. It is believed that focusing the mind solely on the movements helps to bring about a state of mental calm and clarity.

In recent years many studies have shown significant health benefits from the practice, not the least of which is simply keeping us active and moving rather than sedentary and sitting. According to a Hong Kong study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, scientists concluded that Tai Chi is so beneficial to older people’s health that it should be “the preferred mode of training.”

The study showed that Tai Chi improved expansion and contraction of the arteries (known as arterial compliance) an important indicator of heart health, and they also showed increased knee strength. To gain these results a consistent practice is necessary. The study group consisted of 65 people; 29 were from local Tai Chi clubs and practiced about 90 minutes a week with the rest of the group having no Tai Chi experience. Other studies also show improved heart health, decreased blood pressure, reduced incidence of falls and a more optimistic view of life.

So how can we take advantage of this? Come to one class each week for 60 minutes and practice 10 minutes a day, three days a week on your own! It’s that simple. No special equipment is needed and the moves are not strenuous.

SaddleBrooke classes are held each week at the HOA One fitness center. Each class is $10. The beginning class is Sunday from 10:00–11:00, the intermediate is Saturday from 12:30–1:30, and the advanced class is Saturday from 11:00–12:30. Summer classes are typically small so there is more time for individual attention as well as questions and answers. Each class consists of gentle warm up exercises for the body, chi kung (energetic exercises) and instruction in the Tai Chi form. You will leave class feeling relaxed, renewed and ready to enjoy the rest of your day.

Your instructors, Ken and Carol Emerson, are both certified black belts with over 30 years of experience. For more information or to register, call them at 825-9206.