Almost everyone would benefit from getting more exercise. Lack of exercise is a risk factor for almost every type of preventable illness, particularly diabetes, stroke, and heart disease. However, exercise itself can be a strain for many people. Low-impact tai chi is a gentler form of exercise, one which can be done by people who are very young, old, or in poor health as long as they’re mobile and which requires very little in the way of space and no special equipment, but it has been found to have mental and emotional as well as physical benefits.
In one study, tai chi was more beneficial than walking for lower-body strength, and improved arm strength almost as much as weight training. It helps reduce pain and fatigue in people with certain chronic conditions, it has demonstrated emotional benefits, and it helps immunity. It also helps practitioners fight insomnia and get more restful sleep—all without requiring someone to break a sweat.
Recently, tai chi has been found to be useful for people with several specific conditions. Fibromyalgia sufferers often have a hard time getting proper treatment. Fibromyalgia is a difficult condition to pin down to a cause, and is often overlooked by medical professionals entirely, and so treatment is hard to get and to calibrate. People with fibromyalgia who practice tai chi, however, report less pain and more energy, benefits which continued for quite some time after the patients stopped doing the exercises. That means tai chi has achieved better results than medical interventions for fibromyalgia.
People with identified neurological deficits or issues also have reasons to look in to tai chi training. People with Parkinson’s disease, for example, are often prone to depression—over half of all people with Parkinson’s have been diagnosed with clinical depression as well. Exercise can help stave it off, but because of the condition’s effects on motor skills, many exercise programs are difficult. Tai chi, however, is more accessible to people with mobility issues Stroke survivors, too, can benefit from tai chi. People who have had strokes are seven times as likely to fall as the general population, but tai chi can help restore balance.