What is Tai Chi and How Can it Help Me?

Balance and strength are two key elements in preventing a fall. Exercise helps build both balance and strength, but what kind of exercise should you be doing?  

Tai Chi is one form of exercise that experts recommend for any age group. It involves a series of whole-body movements, which are performed in a slow, focused manner combined with controlled breathing. It is a low impact exercise that puts minimal stress on muscles and joints, making it suitable for anyone. It helps improve balance by targeting all the physical components needed to stay upright—leg strength, flexibility, range of motion and reflexes—all of which tend to decline with age.  

Researchers at Harvard Medical School found that as an aerobic workout, tai chi is roughly the equivalent of a brisk walk, depending on your intensity as you perform it. 

You do not need special equipment and you can do it indoors or outdoors, either alone or with a group. Best of all, it requires only about 20 minutes a day. 

Studies have shown that Tai Chi: 

  • Improves balance and stability by strengthening ankles and knees; 
  • Improves lower body and leg strength; 
  • Relieves physical effects of stress; 
  • Promotes deep breathing; 
  • Reduces bone loss in menopausal women; 
  • Helps with arthritis pain; and 
  • Reduces blood pressure 

Direction Home offers the evidence-based program, Tai Chi: Moving for Better Balance, throughout Stark, Summit, Portage, and Wayne counties at various locations: senior living facilities, senior centers, libraries, and faith-based organizations have all hosted our workshops.  Classes are one hour long and held twice per week, but most importantly, they're FREE to attend.  Interested?  Please contact Lori Smith, Training Coordinator, at (330) 899-5255 or lsmith@dhad.org.  We're always looking for volunteers who would like to lead Tai Chi: Moving for Better Balance classes as well.  Training is free - give Lori Smith a call today!