When you hear “martial arts”, what comes to mind is rigorous training that involves punching, kicking, and lots of body contact. That is true for many forms of martial arts, but not all. It is not all martial arts techniques that include vigorous fighting. A technique called It promotes neither violence nor self-defense. It is, therefore, perfect for those who are advanced in age. If you are a senior in search of a low-impact routine that can still improve your health, tai chi may be what you’ve been looking for. Our goal in this article is to show you how to do it.
Do you wonder why tai chi has not fizzled out since all of these years? Fighting techniques have taken the center stage of martial arts, so why is tai chi still standing tall? Well, it is often called the ‘longevity exercise’. That probably explains why it would never go into oblivion. One of its main practices involves meditating in motion. It involves repetitive movements carried out slowly with rhythm, focus, and deep breathing. It is a perfect exercise for seniors because it is self-paced, low-impact, non-competitive, and gentle. More so, it promotes stress relief, relaxation, as well as conscious awareness.
Why Should Seniors Do Tai Chi?
Talking about exercise routines for seniors, tai chi movements are very popular. They are one of the most practiced. Tai chi can suit seniors who have been physically active all their life as well as those who are newbies in the ‘fitness world’.
The following are reasons why seniors should consider tai chi:
1. It makes you more aware of your body
The slow-motion moves in tai chi buoy you up for deliberate, slow movements of your body alongside deep breathing. This combination could help you, as a senior, to gain mastery of how your body moves and operates. As such, you would be more attentive to your body and easily pinpoint any discomfort.
2. It improves cognition
Seniors who have slight cognitive impairment usually show some improvements when they start practicing tai chi. This was proven by a small study that some experts did in 2018.
Giving this a broader view, it means older adults can rely on tai chi to improve their executive functioning, memory, as well as other cognitive skills.
3. It helps to maintain a good balance
Falls are one of the common miseries of old age. But with constant practice of tai chi, a senior would be able to maintain good balance and mobility. These would improve motor function and significantly reduce the risk of falling.
Asides from good balance, tai chi would also improve coordination and flexibility. These are very important to prevent falls in old.
4. Tai chi can ease arthritis pain
A lot of seniors regularly have to endure chronic pain as a result of arthritis and a few other conditions. But when you practice tai chi, the relaxing effect can help soothe your pain. Tai chi will not cure arthritis, but it can reduce your symptoms if you practice it regularly.
More so, tai chi is effective for fitness, safe for seniors, and gentle on the body. It increases posture and flexibility, controls stress, and improves mood.
How to Do Tai Chi
The following are examples of tai chi routines that seniors can do:
1. Touch the Sky
This routine is quite simple and could pass as a warm-up. It is also a beginner-level exercise. You can do the touch-the-sky move before you go on to perform more intense moves.
Touch-the-sky moves help you to master the coordination of movement with breathing. Here is how to do it:
- Sit straight comfortably in a chair and place your hands on your laps. Let your palms face upward and point your fingertips towards one another.
- Breathe in slowly but deeply. With the same rhythm of breathing, raise both hands to your chest level, and then turn both palms outwards. After this, lift both hands above the level of your head, but not too far above. The movements must flow into one another.
- Make sure your elbows are relaxed and slightly bent. They make a reverse movement to return both hands to their initial position. Let the movement rhyme with your breathing still.
- You could repeat this movement for like 10 times.
2. Shoot the Bow
This move is quite simple too and is done while standing. Here is how to do it:
- Stand straight and spread your feet wide apart at about the distance of your shoulder-width. Your arms should be relaxed by your side.
- Round your back with your knees bent slightly, while you look straight ahead. Ensure to maintain a good and relaxed posture.
- Make firm fists with both hands and then place them right in front of your face. Your fingers should point towards you and your palm heels should connect on the sides.
- Breathe in slowly but deeply, as you gradually pivot at your waists to turn leftward. At the same time, extend your left hand right ahead of you, while opening it with the palm facing outwards. Keep the arm relaxed and somewhat bent.
- While making the move above, pull back a little bit with the other fist as if you want to shoot a bow.
- Breathe out slowly but deeply while you return to the initial pose.
- Repeat the process with the hands reversed to complete one cycle. Make the move with your right fist and pull back with the left.
- You may do as much as 10 cycles.
How Learn Other Tai Chi Moves
There are many other tai chi moves that we cannot cover in this article. But if you want to try out other moves, the following tips will help you get started:
- Look for an instructor: The best thing to do if you want to be serious with tai chi is to get an instructor. But make sure you get a class that is suited for seniors. You can get on at a local fitness facility, senior center, tai chi center, or the YMCA.
- Observe the class before committing: It is better not to join a class right away. You should take your time to observe the class before committing. That way, you get a view of what you are expected to do before you do it. You could also observe by watching a YouTube video.
You can learn how to do tai chi from an instructor or from watching a video. The moves are quite simple and very helpful for seniors.