TAI CHI CHUAN from William C. C. Chen Website (www.williamccchen.com)
Tai Chi Chuan and Blood Pressure
(Reuters) – T’ai chi – a slow, relaxed form of exercise with origins in ancient China – lowered people’s blood pressure almost as well as moderate intensity aerobic exercise, according to a study presented recently at a meeting sponsored by the American Heart Association. “You better believe we were surprised by those results,” one of the researchers, Dr. Deborah R.Young from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, MD said in a statement. “We were expecting to see significant changes in the aerobic exercise group and minimal changes in the tai chi grow.
The scientists studied 62 sedentary adults, aged 60 years and older, assigning half to a program of brisk walking and low-impact aerobics and the other half to learning tai chi. After 12 weeks, systolic blood pressure (the first number in a blood pressure reading) had fallen significantly in both groups, an average of 8.4 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) in the aerobic exercise group and 7 mm Hg in
the tai chi group. “It could be that in elderly, sedentary people, just getting up and doing some slow movement could be associated with beneficial reductions in high blood pressure,” Young theorizes.
High blood pressure is a risk factor for stroke and heart attack. Young cautions that the results of her research need to be confirmed by studying a larger group of people. “Until we know more, I encourage people to go out and do brisk walking on a regular basis,” she said. “We know it’s associated with an attitude of health benefits.”
Two Studies by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) initiative, launched in 1990
The two studies were the first involving Tai Chi to be reported by scientists in a special frailty reduction program sponsored by NIA. Public Information Office (301) 496-1752
In the first study, Steven L. Wolf, Ph.D., and colleagues at the Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Ga., found that older people taking part in a 15-week Tai Chi program reduced their risk of falling by 47.5 percent.
A second study, by Leslie Wolfson, M.D., and colleagues at the University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, found that several interventions to improve balance and strength among older people were effective. These improvements, particularly in strength, were preserved over a 6-month period while participants did Tai Chi exercises.
FROM HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL Published in the HARVARD HEALTH LETTER
Volume 21 Number 11 – September 1996 Issue 20TH ANNIVERSARY YEAR
The following is an excerpt from the article “Injury Prevention” of this issue citing a study by the American Geriatric Society on Tai Chi. Another promising way to prevent falls is exercise to improve balance, flexibility, muscle strength, and reaction time.
A study in the May 1996 issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society showed that Tai Chi — an ancient Chinese martial art that employs slow, precise movements — helped improve balance and strength among seniors. Those who underwent Tai Chi training for 15 weeks reduced their risk of falling by 47.5% compared with those who didn’t take classes. Another major benefit was
decreased fear of falling — a worry that often prevents older people from being as active as they’d like.
UNIVERSITY of CALIFORNIA, Berkeley Wellness Letter The Newsletter of Nutrition, Fitness & Stress Management Volume 15, Issue 2 November 1998 From the School of Public Health
Tai Chi: smooth, balanced, low-impact
Though it originated as a self-defense technique, tai chi chuan (or simply tai chi, pronounced tie-jee) has been practiced in China for centuries as an art form, religious ritual, relaxation technique, and exercise for people of all ages, even those in their eighties and nineties. Tai Chi Chuan literally means “Grand Ultimate Fist,” but most people today do not practice it as a martial art. Across America and Canada thousands of people perform the slow, balanced, low-impact movements of Tai Chi, generally as a means of improving flexibility and balance, strengthening muscles, and reducing stress.
Tai Chi involves dozens of dance-like postures, performed in sequences known as “forms” or “sets,” derived from animal postures (such as the snake, dragon, or tiger). At first glance it resembles karate in slow motion or swimming in air. In fact, it is based on the concept of withstanding aggression without force—yielding to a blow and using an attacker’s momentum against him. It
calls for concentration, controlled breathing, balanced shifting of body weight, and muscle relaxation — thus it is often called “moving meditation.” Though Tai Chi movements are slow, they can provide a fairly intense workout.
Under Western eyes: the latest research
Here are some of the potential health benefits of tai chi:
Flexibility, The choreographed exercises gently take your joints through their full range of motion. Studies show that the controlled movements can be helpful for people with arthritis (but they should check with their doctors before starting any exercise program).
Physical therapy. Some research has found that tai chi can be a form of physical therapy and aid in the recovery of injuries. Balance. The smooth, slow movements help instill physical confidence and may enhance balance and coordination.
Strengthening. Tai chi helps tone muscles in the lower body, especially the thighs, buttocks and calves.
Posture. Your head, neck, and spine are usually aligned, thus relieving strain on the neck and lower back.
Relaxation. Tai Chi can have some of the same psychological benefits of yoga. The concentration on the body’s fluid motion and on breathing helps many people relax, and can relieve tension and anxiety.
Lower blood pressure. Though studies have had conflicting results, a recent study presented at the American Heart Association meeting found that 12 weeks of tai chi resulted in a small but significant drop in blood pressure in older people.
Tai chi requires no special clothing or equipment and can be done even in a small space. The best way to learn tai chi is in a class from an experienced instructor who can guide you through the positions. Tai chi classes are often available at the Y, health clubs, colleges, and adult education
programs. Check the Yellow Pages under “martial arts instruction.” Books and videos may also be helpful, though these seldom can take the place of an instructor. It takes year to become adept at Tai Chi, but within a few weeks you can learn several movements or positions.
Second thoughts. A few researchers claim that tai chi can provide a cardiovascular workout as good as jogging. But any such benefit is likely to be minimal. Do some aerobic exercise along with your tai chi.
TUFTS UNIVERSITY Health & Nutrition Letter – YOUR GUIDE TO LIVING HEALTHIER LONGER Volume 17, Issue 10 December 1999, Volume 17, Number 10 FITNESS FORUM
A No-Sweat Exercise with Multiple Benefits
IMAGINE PARTICIPATION in a fitness study turning out so enjoyable that the subjects decide to get together o their to get together on their own to continue the activity once the research itself comes to an end. That’s what happened at the conclusion of a 15-week Tai Chi study conducted at Emory University in Atlanta several years ago. Dozens of men and women in their 70’s and older so
enjoyed learning Tai Chi graceful movements that improve balance that they kept meeting by themselves.
The Emory University researchers were happy, too. They found that those people who learned to perform Tai Chi were almost 50 percent less likely to suffer falls within a given time frame than subjects who simply received feedback from a computer screen on how much they swayed as they stood. That’s no small thing. Each year, almost one in three people over 65 takes a fall. And fall
survivors suffer great declines in activities of daily living than non-fallers and are also at greater risk of institutionalization.
But Tai Chi does more than helps prevent falls. Research suggests that it also improves heart and lung function; reduces the body’s levels of cortisol (a stress hormone”; and improves confidence. Now a new study, conducted at John Hopkins University in Baltimore, indicates that it can also lower systolic blood pressure, the first number in a blood pressure reading.
People between the ages of 60 and 80 with moderately high blood pressure were instructed to engage either in low impact aerobic dance or Tai Chi Several times a week. The Tai Chi Group, it turned out, lowered their systolic blood pressure by an average of 7 points—just a point less than the aerobics group. And they did it without even working up a sweat, even though they were medically obese and lived sedentary lives. Tai Chi barely raises the heart rate.
Just What Is Tai Chi?
Practiced by the Chinese for centuries, Tai Chi is a series of slow movements, or forms, that flow one into the other. As you progress through the gentle, graceful forms—which have names like “White Crane Spreads Its Wings” and “Step Up to Seven Stars”—you end up almost standing on one leg. (Older learners often start by holding onto a chair while moving in their environment), explains Steven Wolf, PHD, en Emory University researcher and physical therapist. That’s
extremely important. As we age, the brain’s ability to process multiple tasks simultaneously diminishes. For example, it becomes harder to walk down a hallway with someone, engaged in conversation, and step over a loose cord all at once. But Tai Chi raises awareness of how the body moves and thereby helps people focus on their relationship to their physical environment in everyday situations.
How to Learn Tai Chi
Your local “Y,” health club, or senior citizens center probably offers a Tai Chi class. Dr. Wolf says there are two things you should do before signing on. First, find out whether the instructor has had experience doing Tai Chi with older people. There are rigorous forms that are not appropriate for folks who are not confident about their balance. Second, get a physician’s approval. While Tai Chi is not physically demanding, it can be somewhat posturally demanding. A primary care physician should know whether a patient is taking medications that could interfere with balance or has a condition that might make a series of Tai Chi movements unadvisable.
Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan
The Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan Form is unlike other forms. It is a series of slow, continuous and even flowing movements that can be practiced by people of all ages.
Yang Short Form – 60 Movements
The Short Form in particular is easy to learn; with proper instruction and practice, it’s a recognized form of therapy, an effective alternative to regular calisthenics and stress management. It requires very little space and no special attire. Due to the ever-growing popularity and demand for the Yang
Short Form, we therefore have had ongoing classes here in Chelsea since 1965. More than 300 Locations
Classes on this form are offered at more than 200 locations across the U.S. and other parts of the world, click on our Teachers Worldwide.
Tai Chi Chuan and Blood Pressure
Two Studies by the National Institute on Aging
FROM HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL
FROM Tuft’s Health and Nutrition Letter
FROM BERKELEY’S WELLNESS LETTER
Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan
T’ai Chi Lowers Blood Pressure
April 22, 1998 NEW YORK
BODY MECHANICS of TAI CHI CHUAN
By William C. C. Chen Published by William C. C. Chen 2 Washington Sq. Village – 10J New York, New York 10012 First Edition – 1973 – 8th – 1999
CHINESE BOXING / MASTERS and METHODS
By Robert W. Smith
QIGONG – The Art and Science of Chinese Energy Healing
By Kenneth S. Cohen Published by Ballantine Books N.Y.C. 10022 4/97