One of the most powerful mechanisms to enhance exercise adherence is to participate in exercise that is enjoyable and something you can regularly do with others. Tai Chi just happens to be one of those activities that provides that for people.
Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese tradition that is practiced as exercise in the modern era (Mayo Clinic, 2018). It is a low cost, low physical impact, and can be a widely beneficial exercise option for people with various diseases, disorders, and the general population.
Researching Tai Chi
In April 2017 a qualitative study by Zheng et al called Subjective Perceived Impact of Tai Chi Training on Physical and Mental Health Among Community Older Adults at Risk for Ischemic Stroke looked deeper into the benefits of this specific exercise. The study states that previous quantitative research has shown various health-related benefits but few have observed how older adults perceive benefits of practicing Tai Chi.
This study used 20 participants randomly selected following the completion of a study of a 12 week Tai Chi intervention of 170 adults focusing on reducing ischemic stroke risk. These 20 adults who completed the exercise program all agreed Tai Chi relaxed and comforted their bodies. Many reported the program promoted physical health, pain relief, enhanced digestion, stronger immune systems, enhanced energy and sleep quality, and improved their mental and emotional state.
The power of Tai Chi
Exercise has so many well-documented benefits that assist in keeping people healthy and living longer, fuller lives. As important as those physical adaptations and benefits are, the perception of how valuable that physical activity is might be as important. If a patient or client perceives that the exercise is not worth their time or not working it is easy that their adherence to the program is decreased.
Making physical activity approachable, engaging, and seemingly beneficial through positive experiences that develop strong connections to the power of exercise is important. Tai Chi is a fantastic example of this concept and should be used a resource across all populations
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