The Science Behind Tai Chi

An outdoor group tai chi class

What is Tai Chi?

Tai chi is a slow movement practice based on martial arts principles. It is an ancient Chinese tradition that has long been practiced for health and wellbeing. Tai chi focuses on slow, meditative movement done in conjunction with long, slow breaths. 1 Because it is a gentle, low-impact form of activity, it is particularly suited to older adults, those who experience chronic pain, and others who require low-intensity exercise.

What are the Benefits of Tai Chi?

Tai chi may improve physical and mental health in a number of ways. Here are some of the health benefits of practicing tai chi on a regular basis.

Promotes Sleep

Tai chi may help you get a better sleep. One study found that older adults who did two tai chi classes per week saw a significant improvement in their sleep after two months. 2 Another study found that young adults with anxiety who practiced tai chi twice a week for ten weeks experienced both a decrease in anxiety symptoms and improved sleep. 3

May Improve Focus & Cognition

Studies show that practicing tai chi may help improve cognition, focus, and memory, especially in older adults. 4 Further research needs to be conducted, but preliminary findings suggest that a regular tai chi practice is a good idea for older adults who want to keep both their bodies and minds sharp.

Can Reduce Chronic Pain

Regular tai chi practice may help reduce chronic pain in some people. One study found that doing tai chi helped to reduce fibromyalgia symptoms. 5 Research has also found that doing tai chi can reduce pain and increase mobility in those with arthritis. 6 7 Because tai chi is a very gentle form of movement, it can be an accessible way for those with chronic pain to increase their activity levels.

If you are interested in trying tai chi but do not know how to get started, speak to a naturopathic doctor. They can work with you to determine whether tai chi is right for you, how often to practice it, and refer you to local classes where you can learn and connect with others in the community.


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