“The Perfect Exercise”
Source: Bruce Frantzis, Time Magazine
Tai Chi heals, prevents sickness, and promotes longevity. Its incredible powers are reflected in its popularity, with over 200 million practitioners worldwide. Frantzis explores how Tai Chi offers amazing benefits to your health and well-being, whether you are an athlete wanting higher performance; an office worker suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome, back pain, or lower energy; or a senior with high blood pressure, arthritis, or poor balance.
With regular practice you can expect to:
• Lower blood pressure and improve circulation
• Boost immunity and prevent disease
• Develop stamina, flexibility, and balance
• Improve sexual, athletic, and intellectual performance
• Stabilize mood swings and sharpen thinking
TAI CHI - More than a great stress buster
Source: Morey Stettner, Investor's Business Daily
THE CHINESE ART HAS MENTAL AND PHYSICAL BENEFITS.
Tai chi. It's the newest exercise craze for many busy executives. Yet it has been around for at least 2,000 years.
This slow, graceful activity began in China where thousands of people still meet in parks to perform the dance-like moves. Through flowing, stylized motions they focus on positive thoughts and feeling calm.
American tai chi instructors report a surge in interest from business people in search of stress relief. Recent medical studies that indicate tai chi can produce physical as well as mental benefits are adding to the momentum.
"I've seen a lot of exercise fads like jogging and kick boxing, but tai chi's popularity is different," said Douglas Lake, president of Comprehensive Survival Arts, a school that teaches self-defense and martial arts in Baltimore.
"Because of its low-impact nature, tai chi takes less of a toll on the body," he said. "An increasing number of people are discovering it and integrating it into their lives. It's portable, so you can even do it in your hotel room."
Long known as a means of "moving meditation," tai chi has only recently been embraces as a form of physical fitness worldwide. It's been shown to lower blood pressure, increase circulation, and tone muscles.
Most medical researchers are studying how tai chi affects the physical condition of older participants.
Earlier this year, for instance, a Johns Hopkins University study found that among a group of sedentary men and women age 60 and up with high blood pressure, 12 weeks of tai chi lowered their blood pressure as much as aerobic exercise.
Among the study's 62 participants, half were assigned to a regime of speed walking and aerobics. The other half learned tai chi. The groups exercised four times a week for 30 minutes at a time. After 12 weeks, the tai chi group's average systolic blood pressure fell by 7 milliliters of mercury, compared with 8.4 in the aerobic group.
"You would expect blood pressure to fall when people begin doing regular aerobic exercise," said Deborah R. Young, an assistant professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University, who led the study. "But we found that tai chi also helped bring blood pressure down."
A '96 study at the Emory University School of Medicine involving 215 people 70 and older also found that regular tai chi sessions led to lower blood pressure. Plus, it concluded these individuals reduced their risk of falls by almost half since tai chi helped them improve their balance.
Business people in stressful jobs find that tai chi offers many therapeutic benefits. The key is to learn the moves and stock to a regime.
"Tai chi gives me a stronger focus, better crises management skills, and it controls my asthma so that I'm off my medications," said Elizabeth Holmes, business manager of a food processing company in Boston.
Like many executives, Holmes takes one-on-one tai chi sessions. Private instruction can cost $30 to $50 an hour, Lake says. "The class setting is traditionally more popular. But private intensive lessons are newer and catching on among executives with tight schedules," he added.
A big part of tai chi is learning to maintain a position such as stretching your arms in front of you while bending your knees without fidgeting or losing your focus. Mastering this skill can pay off in many ways.
"In my business, there's a tendency to adopt a chaotic mind-set," said Jerel Brager, an institutional bond salesman at Morgan Stanley Dean Witter's Baltimore office.
"Tai Chi brings immediate benefits in terms of concentration, relaxation, and physical and mental balance," he said. "And it takes no equipment, isn't costly, and doesn't take that much time."