October Kitchen - June 2019

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Why You Need to Add This Exercise for Better Balance


While the movements appear mild, the practice of tai chi requires discipline and strength. That’s part of the reason why it provides a powerful punch of health benefits and also why less than 5 percent of people stick with it. Some teachers say it takes three years to learn the basic movements of tai chi — and more than a lifetime to master. Physical training, combined with the internal meditative aspect of tai chi, are the reasons martial arts legend Jet Li has turned to the exercise in recent years, even campaigning to make it an Olympic event. In an interview, Li explained his push to make tai chi a more widely recognized and accepted exercise: “In our attempts to push ourselves, we’ve lost sight of an important part of the sporting mindset: balance,” Li said. For anyone setting out on a mission to age gracefully, tai chi can help reduce your risk of falling with its focus on posture. An ounce of preventive tai chi may be worth a pound of cure; the Center for Disease Control reports that people pay an average of $35,000 in health care costs every time they fall. Many community centers and health and wellness facilities offer opportunities to learn tai chi, from free community classes to entire tai chi facilities. Go see for yourself why this is the martial art everyone should practice.

Better Balance With the Internal Martial Art

When you think about martial arts, a few images come to mind: Mr. Miyagi, possibly nunchucks and people breaking objects using impressive disciplined strength. But one of the most powerful martial arts you may not immediately picture is tai chi. This ancient Chinese form of combat in slow motion is an internal martial art that works from the inside out by developing the body’s internal energy, known as qi, or “chi.” In Chinese medicine, balanced qi is essential to good health.

Hundreds of studies demonstrate the mental and physical benefits this quiet martial art provides. Because of its focus on posture, tai chi is particularly helpful for balance. In Harvard’s analysis of 20 different studies, tai chi was shown to improve cognitive function and slow the progression of dementia more than other forms of exercise.

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