We all know how important it is for seniors to stay active. It can be difficult to find an exercise program that accommodates a senior’s various needs. Seniors need exercise programs that are low impact and do not include much cardio. One exercise program that meets all these requirements and is excellent for seniors is tai chi.
Tai chi can be described as meditation in motion. It is a low impact exercise with slow-motion movements. While moving through a sequence of moves you focus on the breath and the sensations in the body, much like you do when meditating. Muscles remain relaxed, and joints are never fully stretched or fully bent, so there is no stress on connective tissues. For seniors, tai chi can have wonderful benefits to both physical and mental health.
Benefits of Tai Chi for Seniors
- Muscle strength – When practiced regularly, tai chi can be comparable to resistance training or brisk walking.
- Flexibility – Particularly important for the elderly, tai chi can improve flexibility and strength.
- Balance – Regular practice of tai chi can help improve balance. Due to the normal process of aging, balance becomes difficult for the elderly. Using tai chi exercises for seniors, an elderly person can improve their balance and reduce their risk of a fall.
- Stress management – Like other forms of relaxation and meditation, tai chi helps the practitioner focus on movement and the breath, which can lead to less stress and anxiety. Reducing stress can lead to improved mood and even better sleep.
Tai Chi Programs for Seniors
Tai chi is fairly popular and instructional videos can be found all over the internet. You may also be able to find a class at a local YMCA or fitness center. You may be able to find a tai chi for seniors class, including one that you can practice sitting down. Because tai chi is so varied, and instructors do not need a certification to teach, here are some suggestions to find a class that’s right for you.
- Check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program, particularly if you take medications that can make you dizzy or lightheaded.
- Seek out reviews and recommendations.
- Ask if you can observe a class before jumping in, so you know exactly what it will be like and if it will be a good fit for you.
- Chat with the instructor before taking the class. Make sure he or she can accommodate various fitness levels and health conditions.
- Be patient! As with any exercise program, it takes eight to twelve weeks of regular practice to start seeing benefits. Give yourself a chance to see if tai chi is right for you.
As has been mentioned before, there are many varieties of tai chi. Most of the movements are simple and repetitive. This article from Vive Health describes several tai chi moves for seniors and includes some video demonstrations. Many of the movements can be completed sitting down. So don’t be afraid to check it out! If you are looking for a way to stay active that is low impact, simple, and fun, tai chi may be perfect for you.