Amongst all types of martial arts, Chinese Tai Chi is the one known to be practiced both for defense reasons and for its contribution to well-being. But what exactly is Tai Chi? Having existed as a traditional type of Chinese martial art, Tai Chi was developed over 800 years ago, and its practice combines physical activity, vital force empowerment, internal strength and respiratory training. The primary difference between Tai Chi and many other types of martial arts, is that this specific type does not require physical strength in order to be practiced; its philosophy, instead, focuses more or respiration, gentle and coordinated movement and internal force.
This brings us to the indisputable benefit that Tai Chi can have on many types of chronic diseases. Once a topic of speculation and dispute, Tai Chi has nowadays been proven to have a confirmed positive impact on the physical condition, well-being and standard of living of patients suffering from chronic disease. A 2016 comprehensive study conducted by the British Journal of Sports Medicine reviewed 33 individual studies, and concluded that Tai Chi can be safely practiced by patients suffering from conditions such as heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cancer and osteoarthritis: not only is Tai Chi safe for these chronic sufferers, but it has actually been proven to improve their overall physical performance and reduce pain.
Pain and physical restriction is known to negatively affect the standards of living in the case of many individuals affected by chronic illness. These patients cannot practice the usual type of exercise (e.g. aerobic exercise), which requires physical strain, strong joints and a competent respiratory and cardiovascular system. The effects of chronic pain and disease-related physical restriction are a huge burden, and result in medication over-prescription, melancholia and/or depression, as well as to a gradually declining physical condition. So how does Tai Chi exactly improve physical strength and well-being? A 2015 meta-analysis carried out by Ling Jun Kong et al., illustrates that Tai Chi, a type of martial art that focuses both on the body and mind, is practiced via slow movement and weight-shifting, rather than forceful and abrupt movements. This indicates that it can be executable by people with limited movement and can actually help to improve joint stability, by slowly setting the joint into motion.
Tai Chi also focuses on meditative techniques; this type of cognitive stimulation and concentration exercise can also contribute to an elevated mood, a better immune system and also a better functioning autonomic nervous system. What patients are usually unaware of, is that chronic pain can cause physical complications, such as hypertension and insomnia: individuals suffering from chronic conditions can be heavily affected by such complications. Tis meta-analysis also confirms the positive contribution that Tai Chi can have on other conditions causing pain, such as fibromyalgia, chronic LBP (lower back pain) and rheumatoid arthritis.
At Neomed, we are currently offering a Tai Chi program, suitable and focused on patients with chronic disease. Join and discover a whole new world of possibilities, including a better physical condition, positive energy and guaranteed rehabilitation.
Chen YW1, Hunt MA1, Campbell KL1, Peill K2, Reid WD3. The effect of Tai Chi on four chronic conditions-cancer, osteoarthritis, heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: a systematic review and meta-analyses. Br J Sports Med. 2016 Apr;50(7):397-407
Jacobson, B. H., Chen, H. C., Cashel, C. & Guerrero, L. The effect of Tai Chi Chuan training on balance, kinesthetic sense, and strength. Percept Mot Skills. 84, 27–33 (1997)
Vitetta, L., Anton, B., Cortizo, F. & Sali, A. Mind-body medicine: stress and its impact on overall health and longevity. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1057, 492–505 (2005)