Building and maintaining endurance, strength, flexibility and balance is important for everyone, but they are particularly important for seniors who want to maintain their mobility. In 2012, the National Institutes of Health launched a program called Go4Life to help seniors focus on and track their progress in exactly those areas.
Daystar Retirement Village offers a variety of classes and fitness equipment to help residents stay fit and healthy, and weekly tai chi classes are a great way to make sure you’re exercising and strengthening all four of those important domains.
Health Benefits of Tai Chi
Tai chi combines the breathing and movement of yoga, with the mindfulness of meditation. According to Inside Elder Care, here are 12 of the many benefits of this ancient Chinese form of exercise:
- Relieves physical effects of stress
- Promotes deep breathing
- Reduces bone loss in menopausal women
- Improves lower body and leg strength
- Helps with arthritis pain
- Reduces blood pressure
- Requires mind and body integration through mental imagery
- Accumulates energy by releasing endorphins rather than depleting it
- Enhances mental capacity and concentration
- Improves balance and stability by strengthening ankles and knees
- Promotes faster recovery from strokes and heart attacks
- Improves conditions of Alzheimer’s, Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s
But don’t just take our word for it. The research literature on tai chi is impressive, if still developing. A study out of Tufts University reports that regular tai chi practice can reduce stress. A study from the University of California, Los Angeles, indicates that tai chi can help strengthen the immune system response against the varicella zoster virus, the virus that causes shingles. At Chang-Gung University in Taiwan, researchers believe that tai chi is an effective intervention to prevent falls among the elderly. At the University of Illinois, researchers studied whether tai chi can help people avoid getting the flu, and reported that it did.
Here are 7 other low impact exercises for seniors to try.