You’ve probably noticed tai chi chuan practitioners in action — they appear to be doing karate in slow motion. This gentle martial arts practice that incorporates deep breathing and slow-motion poses is demonstrating physical and mental health benefits.
It’s no surprise that tai chi practitioners enjoy greater physical endurance, improved balance, and enhanced muscle strength and flexibility. Recent research now indicates that it also strengthens the immune system and leads to better cognition, improved sleep, and enhanced mood and well-being.
In 2014, investigators found that older tai chi practitioners had increased brain connectivity in regions controlling decision-making and attention when compared with age-matched sedentary control subjects.
Any regular cardiovascular exercise will benefit brain health, but finding a workout that you enjoy will motivate you to continue doing it, and many practitioners of tai chi rave about the experience.
It’s easy to get started, too. Classes are available at local community centers and YMCAs. You also can check out the American Tai Chi and Qigong Association’s website at americantaichi.net to find a class.
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