- Key Points About Tai Chi as CAM
- A Description of Tai Chi
- Other Key Beliefs of Tai Chi
- Specific Health Purposes and Tai Chi
- Side Effects and Risks of Tai Chi
- Licensing, Training, and Credentialing of Tai Chi Teachers
- Tai Chi as a Part of CAM
- Some Points of Controversy About Tai Chi
- US Government Funded Research on Tai Chi
- Tai Chi Health Research References
People practice tai chi for various health purposes, such as:
- For benefits from exercise:
- Tai chi is a low-impact form of exercise.
- It is a weight-bearing exercise that can have certain health benefits–for example, to the bones.
- It is an aerobic exercise.c
- To improve physical condition, muscle strength, coordination, and flexibility.
- To have better balance and a lower risk for falls, especially in elderly people.
- To ease pain and stiffness–for example, from arthritis.
- For health benefits that may be experienced from meditation.
- To improve sleep.
- For overall wellness.
For research studies on tai chi for various health conditions, see “For More Information” below.
Many people practice tai chi for health purposes. In the United States, a 2002 national survey on Americans’ use of CAM found that 1.3 percent of the 31,000 survey participants had used tai chi for health reasons in the year before the survey. Tai chi is widely practiced in China (including in its hospitals and clinics) and in other countries with a substantial native-Chinese population. In Asia, many people consider tai chi to be the most beneficial exercise for older people, because it is gentle and can be modified easily if a person has health limitations.
c Aerobic exercise has benefits to the heart and possibly to cholesterol levels. This type of exercise causes the heart to work harder to pump blood more quickly and forcefully. The body adds oxygen to the blood faster, and the person breathes more quickly. Two other examples of aerobic exercise are swimming and brisk walking.