Tai Chi

  • Author:
    Richard Weil, MEd, CDE

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

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What clothing should I wear for tai chi?

Comfortable and loose-fitting clothing that won't restrict your movements are best. Sweatpants, tights, or leotards, and a T-shirt will do. Although it doesn't look like very arduous work (because the movements are so slow), you may work up a sweat, and so overdressing is not recommended.

What precautions should I take before practicing tai chi?

Tai chi is gentle enough for almost everyone. However, if you have arthritis that affects your joints (the Arthritis Foundation recommends tai chi), orthopedic conditions that limit your mobility (back pain, sprains, fractures, and severe osteoporosis), if you're pregnant, if you have a hernia, or if you have any other medical condition that might be affected by exercise, then it's a good idea to speak with your doctor before you try tai chi. If you're concerned about the class that you're considering, then watch the class or speak with the instructor before you start. You want to feel comfortable with the activity, so speak up!

What have you got to lose?

That's tai chi. Practicing it regularly can improve your aerobic capacity, muscular strength, flexibility, and balance; and it can improve your well-being and decrease your stress. It's a martial art that has been practiced for centuries by millions of Chinese. Could all of them be wrong? My suggestion is to give it a try. You've got a lifetime of fitness ahead of you, and so adding something new and different to your fitness skills that has this much potential is worth a try, and certainly worth the effort!

What resources are available to people interested in tai chi?







Medically reviewed by a Board Certified Family Practice Physician


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