Tai chi is a Chinese physical discipline and martial art built around the practice of long, slow movements. Tai chi, which is notable for its relaxed character, never requires the muscles to be tensed or fully extended.

Used as both a form of meditation and exercise, tai chi has become steadily more popular in the West in the last few decades.

As it turns out, there is a good reason for tai chi to be popular: It has considerable health benefits. Here are seven ways that tai chi is good for you.

  1. It’s a solid workout. While tai chi could never be termed strenuous exercise, that doesn’t mean it’s not a valuable workout. Physical exertion of any kind is beneficial, and tai chi functions as a mild aerobic workout, helping to keep the cardiovascular system in good condition.
  1. It increases flexibility. Putting muscles and limbs through their range of motion is a good way to enhance flexibility. While tai chi may not demand that joints be fully extended or maximally stretched, the movements it requires will boost flexibility.
  1. It aids balance. While balance might not seem that important, poor balance can lead to dangerous falls and other problems. Tai chi, like any form of exercise involving a set of organized, controlled movements, can promote better coordination and balance.
  1. It’s perfect for older folks. Because it is gentle and low-impact, tai chi is ideal for people with reduced mobility and weaker cardiovascular systems. Since many older people do not get much — if any — exercise, tai chi can be a great way to ease into a habit of light exercise.
  1. It’s great for those who are out of shape. But it’s not just seniors who can gain from tai chi. Younger people who aren’t in great shape can greatly benefit as well. That’s because tai chi doesn’t require much athleticism at all. Those who are overweight or otherwise in poor health can begin the journey to fitness with tai chi.
  1. It’s easy to get into. Unlike some forms of exercise, tai chi is not hard to pick up. Classes are readily available in almost all locales, and the instructions in those classes are invariably easy to follow. It’s non-competitive, mellow nature also makes it friendly to beginners. As importantly, tai chi does not require gear or equipment of any kind.
  1. It reduces stress. The physical is only one aspect of tai chi. Participants in tai chi are encouraged to meditate as they perform the various movements. The combination of contemplation with gentle, quiet movements can help banish worries and troubles from the mind, making for a remarkably peaceful, calming experience.

Tai chi’s value to health can’t be questioned. Anyone who practices tai chi already can rest assured that they are benefiting from their habit, while anyone interested in trying tai chi should not hesitate to do so.

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