Professor of the Practice of Law University of Denver Sturm College of Law

Tai Chi for Spring

Mar 26, 2020

None of us is having the spring we planned on. We are not going to Opening Day, watching our kids play soccer, taking vacations, hosting BBQs, preparing our kids for Prom and graduation, or getting together with friends and loved ones. We are conducting emergency planning, learning to work from home, and figuring out to stay close without being close. It is stressful.

What we could do while we are all stuck at home is learn something new. One suggestion is Tai Chi, a graceful low impact form of exercise that originated in China as a martial art. It is considered both meditation in motion and medication in motion. Research indicates Tai Chi can provide the following health benefits: better balance, improved flexibility, enhanced muscle strength, improved mood, and decreased stress, anxiety, and depression.

Veterans with PTSD symptoms reported that Tai Chi improved their concentration and helped them manage intrusive thoughts. The participants wanted to continue their training and would recommend Tai Chi to a friend. Tai Chi improved insomnia, fatigue, and depression in breast cancer survivors. And in a small study, 6 healthy adults were given 12 weeks of Tai Chi training and scientists used magnetic resonance spectroscopy to measure biochemical markers of brain health. Researchers found increased N-acetylaspartate, an indicator of brain cell health, suggesting that Tai Chi may promote neuroplasticity, stimulate the birth of new brain cells, and/or protect brain cells against aging.

Takeaway: Tai Chi can relieve stress and improve brain health. YouTube is a great source of free instruction.

Sources

This Gentle Form of Exercise can help Maintain Strength, Flexibility, and Balance, and could be the Perfect Activity for the Rest of your Life, Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School, Aug. 20, 2019, https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-health-benefits-of-tai-chi.

Tai Chi: A Gentle Way to Fight Stress, Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/tai-chi/art-20045184.

Tai Chi Helps Manage Intrusive Thoughts in Veterans with PTSD, Neuroscience News, Nov. 30, 2016, https://neurosciencenews.com/tai-chi-ptsd-veterans-5638/

Tai Chi Relieves Insomnia in Breast Cancer Survivors, Neuroscience News, May 10, 2017, https://neurosciencenews.com/btai-chi-insomnia-cancer-6642/.

Marlynn Wei, Tai Chi May Improve Brain Health and Muscle Recovery, Psychology Today, Apr. 24, 2018, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/urban-survival/201804/tai-chi-may-improve-brain-health-and-muscle-recovery.

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