Tai Chi is a moving form of Qigong that can be done as a martial art or for health. There are many long forms that can take years to learn. In order to make the health benefits of Tai Chi more readily accessible to the population, shortened and simplified versions of it are being created. To this end, a National Expert Meeting on Qigong and Tai Chi which was convened at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on November 14-16, 2005. The National Blueprint Office at the University of Illinois, in conjunction with the National Council on the Aging, received funding from the Archstone Foundation to explore the opportunities, issues, and challenges of integrating Qigong and Tai Chi into the Aging Network.
Experts came from three areas to provide insight into the challenges of translating existing research models into effective community-based programs for the health benefits of older adults:
The meeting was a milestone in the long-term vision to make Qigong and Tai Chi as popular among older Americans as Yoga has become in community fitness centers and exercise programs today.
The proceedings of this meeting are now available. Included are a description, the process, participants, sponsors, and documents, including the Consensus report in .PDF format. In addition, an article in The Journal on Active Aging, Volume 5, Issue 5 (September/October 2006) entitled Qi Gong and Tai Chi: promoting practices that promote healthy aging (in .PDF format) provides an overview of the recommendations and outcomes of the National Expert Meeting.
Tai Chi can be done sitting, standing, or walking. The Institute of Integral Qigong and Tai Chi's Tai Chi Easy™ is an easy to learn and practice version of Tai Chi created to meet the recommendations of the National Expert Meeting on Qi Gong and Tai Chi. Movements may be done individually, or in combinations. See http://www.taichieasy.org for more information on Tai Chi Easy™.
Click on the image or the name of the form to see a short demonstration.
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The popular press, Time Magazine for example, has called it "The Perfect Exercise". T'ai Chi Magazine, for Tai Chi practiced as a martial art, discusses the myriad health benefits of Tai Chi in its August 2006 issue. Newsweek's September 27, 2004 issue reports on the increasing use of Qigong in hospitals and cancer centers across the country. An MSN article Stay Young with Tai Chi explains how doing Tai Chi "offers cardiovascular benefits similar to brisk walking or low impact aerobics, but it's much easier on the body", lowers blood pressure, reduces stress, and improves balance.
There have been some excellent publications on the health benefits of Tai Chi in the medical press as well, such as in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. Also, Yang Yang, Ph.D. at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Kinesiology Department has published a very compelling book on the medical benefits of Tai Chi. Tai Chi has been shown to increase balance control with resulting self-confidence and reduction in falls, especially among the elderly. Studies show it is effective for arthritis and pain, osteoporosis, strength and flexibility. Cardiovascular functioning is also improved. Research has found Tai Chi to be equivalent to moderate aerobic exercise. Tai Chi reduces cholesterol and blood pressure, and increases the capacity of the immune system. The American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation reported a study showing that Tai Chi is safe for rheumatoid arthritis patients.
There is a wealth of research on the benefits of Tai Chi and Qigong: