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Tai chi results in similar or greater improvement in fibromyalgia symptoms when compared to aerobic exercise, according to a new study from Tufts University and Brown University. Aerobic exercise, a core part of standard fibromyalgia treatment, is the most commonly prescribed nondrug treatment for the disorder, which can involve widespread pain, tenderness, fatigue, and other symptoms. Findings from the new study, however, suggest that tai chi is another therapeutic option. The study, partially funded by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), was published in the BMJ. The researchers noted that extensive evidence has suggested that aerobic exercise is effective in treating fibromyalgia. Some patients with fibromyalgia, however, struggle with exercise programs. This study showed that tai chi appears to be as effective or better for managing fibromyalgia, that a longer duration of tai chi results in greater benefits, and that patients are more likely to attend tai chi classes than aerobic exercise sessions. The researchers therefore concluded that tai chi may be a therapeutic option in the multidisciplinary management of fibromyalgia. Reference Wang C, Schmid CH, Fielding RA, et al. Effect of tai chi versus aerobic exercise for fibromyalgia: comparative effectiveness randomized controlled trial. BMJ. 2018;360:k851

Neuroscience shows that Tai Chi can activate the parietal cortex of the brain in a beneficial way leading to a sense of where the body is, and keeping areas that are key to memories engaged, too. The neural systems being activated in Tai Chi, with its graceful slow motion, mindful concentration, upright posture, mental imagery and visualisation relate to areas such as body control, self-image, memory and empathy toward ot

Tai Chi for Better Health

 

Tai Chi is an ancient art of great skill but the basics can be simple to learn and soon deliver health benefits.  

 

This mindful practice featuring the integration of mind and body, fluidity of movement; control of breathing; and mental concentration is a gentle form of exercise which is relaxing and suitable for all ages and abilities.  

We aim to promote the many health benefits of Tai Chi and make it an enjoyable way to improve the body’s response to stress. In Tai Chi for Better Health, we introduce beginners to the practice through sets which have been shortened and forms have been specially adapted for conditions such as arthritis and osteoporosis, they may be performed seated if necessary.  Practising Tai Chi in these safe and effective forms can improve flexibility, muscle strength and fitness. 

When participants are ready, we move on to the traditional forms of Tai Chi Chuan and Qi Gong, which research shows can work to improve chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, respiratory diseases and many more.  With regular practice Tai Chi improves posture and balance, helps build immunity to disease, relieve pain and improves quality of life.

Recent studies have reported evidence supporting Tai Chi as effective for preventing falls, improving psychological health, and promoting healthy aging. One study showed that Tai Chi has the potential to improve short-term cognitive function in the elderly at the onset of dementia, and another that Tai Chi was found to have a role in the management of cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Parkinson’s disease, and cardiac and cardiovascular disorders.

Moving slowly is a key Tai Chi principle. In today’s fast-paced world, it is good for our minds and bodies to slow down.Allowing time for mind and body to connect and ‘tuning in’ to the breath relieves stress and aids relaxation. Slow movement has many physiological benefits too: it builds the muscles which support joints and spine, helping to maintain proper posture and improving flow of blood and oxygen to muscles, ligaments, and tendons; it engages the connective tissue around the muscles and organs within the body, which fast movement does not; it allows the joints to be correctly aligned, making movement easier and less likely to cause pain or injury. Mindful stepping, along with body awareness, good posture and proper alignment helps to improve balance.