Tai Chi could be answer for elderly seeking exercise

Tai Chi, a traditional Chinese martial art, continuously is proven to have both physical and mental benefits for individuals of any age. This gentle form of martial art concentrates on controlled movements, breathing and relaxation. The commitment to Tai Chi is less than 30 minutes a day and does not require any equipment to get started.

In the senior population, there are many physical benefits with continued practice of Tai Chi. Tai Chi is a less strenuous form of conditioning that requires focus on specific movements that the body makes. By doing so, this exercise can help ease joint pain, lower blood pressure, increase stability and evenly strengthen the muscles in the body. All in all, it helps to decrease the physical effects of stress that the body accumulates throughout the day. Because this is a low-impact, high quality exercise, it proves to be a better alternative for the senior population compared to running, walking or even swimming. Tai Chi has proven to be highly important to those suffering from consistent pain and difficulty from post-surgical interventions (i.e. knee surgery, hip surgery, back surgery). Studies have also shown that individuals who participated in Tai Chi classes and activities after receiving surgical interventions improved their balance and reduced the likelihood of tripping.

It is clear to see the physical benefits of Tai Chi but there are mental health benefits to this exercise. People who are scared of taking on a new type of exercise because of fear of further injury can rest assured that Tai Chi is a better alternative. Tai Chi consists of gentle, flowing movements that people can mentally ease into. It can enhance mental capacity and concentration through visual imagery. It can also help with overall mood, control anxiety and encourage healthy sleep. According to Kerri Robertson, assistant supervisor and wellness coordinator at the Senior Activity Center of Sheboygan, “Tai Chi is sometimes described as ‘meditation in motion’ because it promotes serenity through gentle movements and connecting the mind and body.” There are several opportunities in Sheboygan County to participate in Tai-Chi classes: one of them being the Senior Activity Center of Sheboygan.

“The participants have gained better balance. The total number of participants has increased in that the beginner class is smaller and mostly everyone has progressed to the advanced class! People really enjoy Tai-Chi,” Robertson said.

Tai Chi classes are held on Mondays and Wednesdays each week for a half an hour. Contact the Senior Activity Center to check on class fees.

The Sheboygan County Activity and Nutrition Coalition wants to remind our community that there are several options of exercise techniques. By choosing techniques best suited for your body, it can help maintain physical health. Don’t forget to combine mental health with physical health to ensure overall strength and balance within your quality of life.

Erica Gollhardt, the admissions/marketing director for Golden Living Center-Sheboygan, is a member of the Sheboygan County Activity and Nutrition Coalition.