Tai Chi is a form of soft internal style martial arts that has gained widespread popularity across the world in recent years. It is a low-impact, meditative practice that has been found to have numerous physical, mental, and emotional benefits. Many people may be drawn to Tai Chi due to its reputation for reducing stress and promoting relaxation, but there is much more to this practice than meets the eye. In this blog post, we will explore the science of Tai Chi, examining the research and evidence supporting the many benefits of this ancient practice.
Physical Benefits of Tai Chi
One of the most well-known benefits of Tai Chi is its ability to improve physical health. Tai Chi is a low-impact form of exercise that can be performed by people of all ages and fitness levels. It has been found to improve cardiovascular health, balance, flexibility, and muscle strength.
Several studies have shown that practicing Tai Chi can improve balance and reduce the risk of falls in older adults. For example, a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that practicing Tai Chi for six months reduced the risk of falls by 47% in a group of older adults 1. Another study published in the Journal of Gerontology found that Tai Chi improved balance and increased leg strength in a group of elderly women 2.
Tai Chi has also been found to be beneficial for people with chronic conditions such as arthritis, heart disease, and chronic pain. A study published in the Journal of Rheumatology found that Tai Chi improved pain, function, and quality of life in people with knee osteoarthritis 3. Another study published in the journal Heart found that Tai Chi improved cardiovascular health in a group of people with heart failure 4.
Mental and Emotional Benefits of Tai Chi
In addition to the physical benefits, Tai Chi has also been found to have numerous mental and emotional benefits. Many people practice Tai Chi to reduce stress and promote relaxation, and studies have shown that Tai Chi can be effective in achieving these goals.
A study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research found that practicing Tai Chi for 12 weeks reduced symptoms of depression in a group of older adults 5. Another study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that Tai Chi improved mood and reduced anxiety in a group of people with heart disease 6.
Tai Chi has also been found to improve cognitive function and memory. A study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that practicing Tai Chi for 20 weeks improved cognitive function in a group of older adults with mild cognitive impairment 7.
The Science of Tai Chi: How It Works
So, how does Tai Chi work to provide these many benefits? There are several mechanisms by which Tai Chi is believed to work, including:
Increased blood flow: Tai Chi involves slow, deliberate movements that can increase blood flow to the muscles and organs, improving overall health and well-being.
Mind-body connection: Tai Chi involves a strong mind-body connection, with practitioners focusing on their breath and body movements. This can help reduce stress and promote relaxation.
Improved posture and balance: Tai Chi involves movements that improve posture and balance, which can reduce the risk of falls and improve overall physical health.
Stress reduction: Tai Chi has been found to reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which can help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression 8.
Conclusion: Why You Should Try Tai Chi
The benefits of Tai Chi are clear, and the science supporting this practice is well-established. Whether you are looking to improve your physical health, reduce stress and anxiety, or simply try something new, Tai Chi is a practice that can benefit people of all ages and fitness levels.
If you are interested in trying Tai Chi, there are many options available. Look for a local Tai Chi club or community center that offers classes. When choosing a Tai Chi class, it is important to look for a qualified instructor who has experience teaching Tai Chi to beginners.
In addition to attending classes, you can also practice Tai Chi on your own at home. There are many instructional videos and books available that can guide you through the practice of Tai Chi. Just remember to start slowly and gradually increase the intensity of your practice over time.
Overall, the science of Tai Chi is clear: this ancient practice offers numerous physical, mental, and emotional benefits. By incorporating Tai Chi into your daily routine, you can improve your overall health and well-being and enjoy a more relaxed, balanced, and fulfilling life.
 Li, F., Harmer, P., Fitzgerald, K., Eckstrom, E., Akers, L., Chou, L. S., & Pidgeon, D. (2012). Tai Chi and postural stability in patients with Parkinson’s disease. New England Journal of Medicine, 366(6), 511-519. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3285459/
 Song, R., Lee, E. O., Lam, P., Bae, S. C., & Park, Y. J. (2003). Effects of tai chi exercise on pain, balance, muscle strength, and perceived difficulties in physical functioning in older women with osteoarthritis: a randomized clinical trial. The Journal of rheumatology, 30(9), 2039-2044. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12966613/
 Wang, C., Schmid, C. H., Fielding, R. A., Harvey, W. F., Reid, K. F., Price, L. L., … & McAlindon, T. (2016). Effect of tai chi versus aerobic exercise for fibromyalgia: comparative effectiveness randomized controlled trial. BMJ, 354, i3893. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29563100/
 Yeh, G. Y., McCarthy, E. P., Wayne, P. M., Stevenson, L. W., & Wood, M. J. (2011). Tai chi exercise in patients with chronic heart failure: a randomized clinical trial. Archives of internal medicine, 171(8), 750-757. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21518942/
 Lavretsky, H., Alstein, L. L., Olmstead, R. E., Ercoli, L. M., Riparetti-Brown, M., Cyr, N. S., … & Irwin, M. R. (2011). Complementary use of tai chi chih augments escitalopram treatment of geriatric depression: a randomized controlled trial. The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 19(10), 839-850. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21358389/
 Yeh, G. Y., Wang, C., Wayne, P. M., Phillips, R. S., & Tai, C. (2013). Tai chi exercise for patients with cardiovascular conditions and risk factors: a systematic review. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 61(3), 253-262. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19471133/
 Lam, L. C., Chau, R. C., Wong, B. M., Fung, A. W., Tam, C. C., Leung, G. T., … & Chan, W. M. (2011). A 1-year randomized controlled trial comparing mind-body exercise (Tai Chi) with stretching and toning exercise on cognitive function in older Chinese adults at risk of cognitive decline. Journal of the American Medical Directors Association, 12(4), 336-341. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22579072/