Tai chi for health & fitness

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Ideal exercise

The Okinawa Program was a 25 year study into longevity and healthy living. It led to other studies such as The Blue Zones, 50 Secrets of the World's Longest Living People and How Not To Die.
The three doctors who wrote The Okinawa Program maintain that taijiquan - with its ancient origins and incredible health benefits - is the ideal form of exercise for modern people of all ages.

Simplified taijiquan

Adapted from taijiquan, tai chi for health & fitness is a simplified, non-martial exercise suitable for most adults. It can be practiced by people of all ages and serves as a daily 'tonic'.
The training is intended to improve health and wellbeing through frequent, regular practice using low effort.


Tai chi exercise is known as one of the finest low-risk forms of physical fitness. There are millions and millions people around the world who are enjoying the significant health benefits of daily practice, helping to reduce depression and promote the feeling of serenity. The happy result is increased optimism and enhanced mental, physical and spiritual well-being.

(William CC Chen)


Tai chi involves simple movements, mild stretches and cooperative partner work. The onus is upon relaxation, balance, good poise and coordination.
Students learn how to move their body in a healthy, comfortable way without the risk of injury.

Day-to-day health

Tai chi was designed to gently renew and refresh your body on a daily basis. You unkink those unpleasant aches and pains, stiff muscles and sore joints.
You gently, softly encourage your body to move freely and comfortably. Instead of hammering and punishing your body, you treat it with respect and care. Your body must last you a lifetime.
The secret is to practice little and often.

Gentle exercise

Tai chi offers a balanced approach to the cultivation of health, vitality and wellbeing. There is no sweating, straining or panting for breath. There is gain without pain.
You can gently and gradually improve fitness without exertion; providing you practice between lessons.


Tai chi is often described as "meditation in motion," but it might well be called "medication in motion." There is growing evidence that this mind-body practice has value in treating or preventing many health problems. And you can get started even if you aren't in top shape or the best of health.

(Harvard Medical School’s Harvard Health Publication, May 2009)

Preventative healthcare

Although many modern people seek to use tai chi as a means of curing illness, this is not where its strength lies. Tai chi is best employed whilst healthy, not sick.
When a healthy person does tai chi they are more apt to remain healthy. It takes far less effort to prevent something than to cure it...


The benefits of tai chi are significant, medically proven and long-lasting:

  1. Stay calm

  2. Develop your memory skills

  3. Mindfulness

  4. Boost energy

  5. Increased brain activity

  6. Cultivate an unusual form of strength

  7. Improved joint function

  8. Feel balanced

  9. Increased stamina and endurance

  10. Release deeply-held muscular tension

  11. Meditation & awareness

  12. Increased flexibility

  13. Coordination

  14. Better focus/concentration

  15. Learn to relax naturally

  16. Improved poise and posture

Long held to be an excellent anti-aging regime, tai chi may indeed be the perfect exercise (Harvard Medical School).

12 weeks

Harvard Medical School reports that most tai chi trials last at least 12 weeks. They involve instruction once or twice a week supplemented with daily home practice.
By the end of the trial, most participants experienced an improvement in health. This highlights a major consideration for new starters; it can take some weeks for the health benefits to occur.

The Chinese exercise practice of tai chi can significantly boost the body's immune system response to virus infection.

(ABC Science, regarding a University of California study)

Motor learning
Motor learning is about the process of using the body, rather than simply exercising the body.
Agility, mobility, relaxed spontaneous movement, balance, structure, alignment, biomechanics, efficiency, ambidextrous body use, joint health, coordination, skill, emotional wellbeing or psychological flexibility.
Tai chi combines exercise with motor learning.

Does tai chi involve physical contact?

Yes it does. Students explore qigong, form and partner work.
Qigong and form are solo training methods.
Partner work involves training with other students. Physical contact is necessary in order to receive feedback (tense/relaxed/connected etc) and to practice the tai chi skills.

The origin of health practice

Tai chi was first popularised by Yang Cheng Fu in the early part of the 20th Century. This led to the widespread fame of taijiquan for health throughout China.

1950's China

Faced with a major health crisis, the People's Republic of China turned to Yang style taijiquan for a solution. Just think about what that means...
Yang style taijiquan's reputation for health was so well founded that the government of China thought to employ the art officially as a means of improving wellbeing.
It was simplified and adapted, then introduced to schools nationwide.

Tai chi frees the body and helps with relaxation and overall
It activates muscles, sinews and joints in the body. It strengthens physical power without stress.
It maintains youth and aliveness, and slows down the aging process through rejuvenation.
Tai chi calms and collects. It clears and sharpens the mind to help us in focusing and centering our daily activities.
When the body and mind move harmoniously together, the human spirit soars.

The ultimate benefit of tai chi is to experience living in a healthy, wide-awake state of being.

(Chungliang Al Huang)


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Page created 11 January 1993
Last updated 23 July 2022