A form of mind-body exercise that originated in ancient China, tai chi combines slow motion exercise and mind concentration to focus on movement.
In China, it is believed that tai chi can delay aging and prolong life, increase flexibility, strengthen muscles and tendons, and aid in the treatment of heart disease, high blood pressure, arthritis, digestive disorders, skin diseases, depression, cancer, and many other illnesses.
Unfortunately, there hasn’t been a lot of research done to scientifically support all of these claims. However, this does not mean that they are not actually true. Although, there has been one recent study where the results seem to be promising.
Xianglan Zhang, from the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine (Tennessee, USA), and colleagues studied data collected on over 61,000 middle-aged and elderly men in Shanghai, China. Researchers tracked their health and lifestyle for more than five years: nearly 22,000 participants reported that they exercised at least once a week, and the rest were considered non-exercisers.
Factoring in the men’s age, health conditions and whether they smoked, exercise was tied to a 20% lower likelihood of dying. Similarly, whereas 6.2% of the nearly 10,000 men who practiced tai chi died during the study, after adjusting for confounding factors the team found they were 20% less likely to die than men who didn’t exercise.
Further, the researchers observed that men who walked regularly were 23% less likely to die during the study, and men who jogged were 27% less likely to die. The study authors write that: “The present study provides the first evidence that, like walking and jogging, practicing Tai Chi is associated with reduced mortality.”
Of course, there is a lot more research that would need to be done to provide “scientific evidence” for the health benefits of Tai Chi. However, this will most likely never be done because there is no way for companies to make billions of dollars promoting it.
Most of the health benefit claims are made by people who are actually practicing Tai Chi. Of course, people in China have been observing the results of practicing Tai Chi for many generations and they believe strongly in the benefits and this new research does take a step toward supporting these claims.
Sometimes the best way to determine how effective a practice like Tai Chi can be, is to actually try it out for yourself. Who knows, you might fall in love with it like so many other people have.
In addition, there tend to be a lot of attractive women taking Tai Chi classes. So, if you are single and looking, a local Tai Chi class might be a great place to find some cute single ladies.
Na Wang, Xianglan Zhang, Yong-Bing Xiang, Honglan Li, Gong Yang, Jing Gao, Wei Zheng, Xiao-Ou Shu. “Associations of Tai Chi, Walking, and Jogging With Mortality in Chinese Men.” Am. J. Epidemiol., June 27, 2013.