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We taught our tai chi for health syllabus to the over 50's for 7 years at Age Concern in Newcastle and Age Concern North Tyneside. Our students had a variety of health conditions.
We had referrals from Freeman Hospital, medical students visited the class regularly and the classes were featured in the local newspapers.
One of the referrals from Freeman Hospital was a rheumatoid arthritis group containing about 15 patients. The tai chi tuition was so successful that the group disbanded within a year.
Most of the students returned to work and the rest joined the main tai chi class.
Worth a try?
The Age Concern students mentioned above just did our 'normal' exercises; they did not receive bespoke, individualised therapy/advice. They simply tried the qigong and tai chi exercises.
And their health improved...
The risk of heart failure
was more than double for men who sat for at least five hours a day outside
of work and didn't exercise very much, compared with men who were physically
active and sat for less than two hours a day.
(Dr. Deborah Rohm)
Dr Michael Greger (author of How Not To Die) recommends 90 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every day.
The three doctors who wrote The Okinawa Program maintain that tai chi - with its ancient origins and incredible health benefits - is the ideal form of exercise for modern people.
There have been a number of medical trials to assess the health benefits of tai chi. They determined that daily practice between lessons has helped a lot of people improve their health.
It can take up to 12 weeks for the health benefits of daily tai chi practice to have an effect.
People think that tai chi training is going to involve some sort of one-to-one therapy. This is not correct. A tai chi class is an exercise class. It addresses:
• Muscular tension
• Ergonomic body use
• Body awareness
Doctors often suggest tai chi to people who are overweight, stressed or suffering from fatigue. The well-meaning doctor is hoping that the patient will take responsibility for their own wellbeing.
It is up to you to manage your own medical condition both in and out of class.
If you have any medical questions, your doctor is the person to speak to. A tai chi teacher is not qualified (or permitted) to give advice on your unique medical condition. Go see your doctor.
I've been trying to get this point over for years. It's mainly
prevalent in the qigong world. We're not doctors. If students train
regularly then they may gain health benefits but we can't pretend we can
cure them! So many times I've seen last-gap causes who are often very
over-weight and have done no exercise who have been referred to by doctors.
The reality is that we can offer assistance for those who are prepared to
train but most doctors have little idea of what is actually happening in a
tai chi class and, then again, there is such a variety of aspects taught in
the many differing classes available.
One of the main functions of our school is to increase the individual's awareness of their own body. This means closely observing the way in which you breathe, stand, sit, lift, push, pull and move.
Bad habits become evident.
The simple qigong exercises and more complex tai chi movements are all designed to educate the exponent. Every movement must be performed with health in mind.
A greater understanding of balance, body mechanics and gravity will ensue.
Your doctor will try their best to heal you when you have a medical problem, but they are not with you all day long. We encourage students to learn how to best use their own body.
By understanding your body, physics, alignment and balance, you learn to take responsibility for your own wellbeing. To some extent you may even be able to heal yourself.
Page created 26 September 1994
Last updated 6 October 1997