Health Benefits of T’ai Chi Ch’uan (TCC)

GENERAL BENEFITS: TCC develops inner strength, increases muscle tone and flexibility, boosts immunity, reduces stress, increases energy and body awareness, and improves balance and coordination…Men’s Health Magazine, 8 Mar/Apr ’93 p. 66-69.

PHYSIOLOGICAL BENEFITS: TCC increases heart rate and urine noradrenaline excretion and decreased salivary cortisol concentration during practice. Relative to baseline levels, test subjects reported less tension, depression, anger, fatigue, confusion and anxiety; they felt more vigorous, with less total mood disturbance…Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 1989 V. 33 (2) 197-206.

MENTAL HOMEOSTASIS: Psychological homeostasis refers to emotional control or tranquility. The biological function of human emotion and repression is primarily homeostatic. A feedback relationship exists between forms of homeostasis, and the body-mind type of therapies (including acupuncture and TCC) that have a combined physiological, physical, and psychological effect. American Journal of Chinese Medicine, 1981 Spring V. 9 (1) 1-14.

 IMMUNE SYSTEM: A study conducted in China indicates that TCC may increase the number of T lymphocytes in the body. Also know as T-Cells, these lymphocytes help the immune system destroy bacteria and tumor cells. Prevention Magazine V. 42, May 90, p.14-15.

BREATHING, ACHES, BLOOD PRESSURE:  Study participants observed a “big increase in breathing capacity,” a disappearance of back and neck aches; those with high blood pressure claimed a drop of 10 to 15 mm Hg systolic at rest, and all participants claimed to have more energy in their daily work. Hawaii Medical Journal – V. 51 No. 8 August 92.

MENTAL & PHYSICAL STRESS: Mind & body exercises based on a series of progressive choreographed movements coordinated with deep breathing, such as TCC are increasingly replacing high-impact aerobics, long distance running, and other body punishing exercises of the 1980’s. Mind/body workouts are kinder to the joints and muscles and reduce the tension that often contributes to the development of disease, making them especially appropriate for high powered, stressed out baby boomers. Unlike most conventional exercises, these forms are intended to stretch, tone, and relax the whole body instead of isolated parts. Working Woman Magazine V. 20 Feb. 95.

BEYOND TRADITIONAL CARE: Health practitioners encountering clients who are faced with problems that do not seem to respond to traditional health care may employ some of the health traditions of other cultures that view the body and mind as a balanced whole, such as massage, acupuncture and TCC, which focus on the mind/body connection to facilitate healing through relaxation, pressure points, and movement. American Association of Health Nurses Journal, 1993 July, 41 (7) 349-351.

RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS: No significant exacerbation of joint symptoms using TCC was observed. TCC appears to be safe for RA patients and weight bearing exercises have the potential advantages of stimulating bone growth and strengthening connective tissue. American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, June 1991, 70 (3) p. 136-141.

PSYCHOLOGY: “TCC is a natural and safe vehicle for both clients and staff to learn and experience the benefits of being able to channel, concentrate and co-ordinate their bodies and minds: to learn to relax and to neutralize rather than resist the stress in their personal lives. This is an ability, which we greatly need to nurture in our modern fast-paced society.” Dr. John Beaulieu, N.D., M.T.R.S. Bellevue Psychiatric Hospital, N.Y.C. [Refer to the TCC book “The Supreme Ultimate” for full text]

CARDIORESPIRATORY EFFECTS: The data substantiate that practicing TCC regularly may delay the decline of cardio-respiratory function in older individuals. In addition, TCC may be prescribed as a suitable aerobics exercise for older adults. Journal of American Geriatric Society, Nov. 1995, 43 (11) p 1222-1227. TCC lowers blood pressure almost as well as moderate intensity aerobic exercise, according to a study presented at a meeting sponsored by the American Heart Association. The scientists studied 62 sedentary adults, aged 60 years and older, assigning half to a program of brisk walking and low-impact aerobics and the other half to learning TCC. After 12 weeks, systolic blood pressure (the first number in a blood pressure reading) had fallen significantly in both groups, an average of 8.4 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) in the aerobic exercise group and 7 mm Hg in the TCC group. “You better believe we were surprised by those results,” one of the researchers, Dr. Deborah R. Young, MD, from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, said in a statement. “We were expecting to see significant changes in the aerobic exercise group and minimal changes in the TCC group. “It could be that in elderly, sedentary people, just getting up and doing some slow movement could be associated with beneficial reductions in high blood pressure.” High blood pressure is a risk factor for stroke and heart attack. Young cautions that the results of her research need to be confirmed by studying a larger group of people.

SUPPORT GROUPS RECOMMENDING TCC: Multiple Sclerosis, Fibromyalgia, Parkinson’s Disease, Lupus, Migraines, Chronic Pain.

For a more complete presentation and discussion of the many medical research studies that have investigated TCC, please refer to The Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi: 12 Weeks to a Healthy Body, Strong Heart, and Sharp Mind (Harvard Health Publications) by Peter Wayne.



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