Tai chi combines deep breathing and relaxation with flowing movements. Originally developed as a martial art in 13th-century China, tai chi is now practised around the world as a health-promoting exercise. Tai chi, short for T’ai chi ch’üan refers to a philosophy of the forces of yin and yang, related to the moves which comprise this martial art. Tai chi has now spread worldwide but most modern styles of tai chi can still trace their development to at least one of the five traditional schools: Chen, Yang, Wu (Hao), Wu and Sun. All of the former, in turn, trace their historical origins to Chen Village.
Tai chi is an excellent form of exercise for older people as it is a low-impact exercise, which means it won’t put much pressure on your bones and joints. Tai chi is essentially a gentle activity that is unlikely to cause injury if done correctly. The exercises involve lots of flowing, easy movements that don’t stress the joints or muscles. Most people should be able to do it, however we would always recommend that you get advice from your GP before starting tai chi if you have any health concerns or an existing health condition. You may need to take certain precautions if you have a hernia, back pain or severe osteoporosis.
The NHS says that tai chi’s health benefits to people over 65 include reduced stress, improved posture, balance and general mobility, and increased muscle strength in the legs. Research from the USA suggests that Tai Chi also helps to lower blood pressure, reduce the incidence of falls, improve breathing and reduce insomnia. Many of these benefits are said to be attributable, not just to the exercise and movement aspects of tai-chi, but to the meditation and mental conditioning which is an integral part of the discipline.
You don’t need to be fit to start doing tai-chi. It is ideal for inactive older people wanting to raise their activity levels gently and gradually. Many of the tai chi movements can also be easily adapted to people with a disability, including wheelchair users.
It’s a good idea to watch a class or attend a free taster session before signing up for a course. If you have a medical condition or any health concerns, or haven’t exercised for a long time, speak to your GP before you start tai chi.
Age Concern Liverpool & Sefton offer local Tai Chi sessions designed to improve ability and performance, strengthen muscle groups and improve posture and balance. We have found that participation also also improves motor skills, increases body awareness, and stimulates memory.
Our sessions are held every Wednesday between 1pm and 2pm at Marshside Methodist Church, 1 Marshside Road, Southport PR9 9TL. There is a small fee for participation of £3.50, which covers our costs in staging the classes.
To book your place or for more details please call us on 01704 542 993 or 0151 256 2541