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- Introduction to tai chi
- What is tai chi, and where does it come from?
- What are the benefits of tai chi?
- How much tai chi should I do?
- How do I get started with tai chi?
- What clothing should I wear for tai chi?
- What precautions should I take before practicing tai chi?
- What resources are available to people interested in tai chi?
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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
Hain, TC, et al. Effects of T'ai Chi on balance. Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1999 Nov;125(11):1191-5.
Hong, Y, et al. Balance control, flexibility, and cardiorespiratory fitness among older Tai Chi practitioners. Br J Sports Med. 2000 Feb;34(1):29-34.
http://www.tai-chi.com/info_detail.php?id=8, July 10, 2007
Kutner, NG, et al. Self-report benefits of Tai Chi practice by older adults. J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 1997 Sep;52(5):P242-6.
Stevens, JA, et al. Reducing falls and resulting hip fractures among older women. MMWR Recomm Rep. 2000 Mar 31;49(RR-2):3-12.
Taggart, HM, et al. Effects of T'ai Chi exercise on fibromyalgia symptoms and health-related quality of life. Orthop Nurs. 2003 Sep-Oct;22(5):353-60.
Taylor-Piliae, RE, et al. Improvement in balance, strength, and flexibility after 12 weeks of Tai chi exercise in ethnic Chinese adults with cardiovascular disease risk factors. Altern Ther Health Med. 2006 Mar-Apr;12(2):50-8.
Taylor-Piliae, RE, et al. Effectiveness of Tai Chi exercise in improving aerobic capacity: a meta-analysis. J Cardiovasc Nurs. 2004 Jan-Feb;19(1):48-57.
Tinetti, ME, et al. Shared risk factors for falls, incontinence, and functional dependence. Unifying the approach to geriatric syndromes. JAMA. 1995 May 3;273(17):1348-53.
Tse, SK, et al. T'ai chi and postural control in the well elderly. Am J Occup Ther. 1992 Apr;46(4):295-300.
Wolf, SL, et al. The Atlanta FICSIT study: two exercise interventions to reduce frailty in elders. J Am Geriatr Soc. 1993;41:329-32.
Wolf, SL. The effect of Tai Chi Quan and computerized balance training on postural stability in older subjects. Atlanta FICSIT Group. Frailty and Injuries: Cooperative Studies on Intervention Techniques. Phys Ther. 1997 Apr;77(4):371-81.
Wu, G. Evaluation of the effectiveness of Tai Chi for improving balance and preventing falls in the older population--a review. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2002 Apr;50(4):746-54.