Live long and prosper!

Carol Emerson

Tai Chi is an ancient system of exercise that originated in the Taoist temples of China over 2000 years ago. The monks of the temples developed Tai Chi as a way to keep themselves physically fit while spending many hours in meditation and also as a means (they hoped) to obtain longevity, even immortality. Current medical research has shown they were onto something! At least in terms of fitness and longevity.

When we do Tai Chi we move through a series of slow, soft, flowing movements while engaging in deep diaphragmatic breathing and mental focus. This affects the body in the following ways:

* We become more relaxed and the blood pressure eases, respiration slows and the mind settles reducing anxiety and stress and creating greater blood flow and oxygen to the cells of our bodies. Many illnesses such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, diabetes and gastrointestinal issues have their roots in stress. Therefore, to practice Tai Chi can help ward off the onset of or reduce the severity of these diseases.

* The gentle movements make our bodies become stronger and more flexible. Tai Chi is performed in a bent knee stance and involves stepping, turning and raising of the arms. When we are stronger and more flexible we are less likely to fall and falls are a significant cause of death in older people. We also have a greater range of motion and ease in the joints, which is a good thing in itself and also helps osteoarthritis.

* There have been studies that show a regular Tai Chi practice can help treat depression, increase social connection and delay the progression of Parkinson’s disease. It has also been shown to increase neuroplasticity in the brain, helping with memory and mental acuity.

So with Tai Chi we can remain healthier as we age and that, along with reducing our risk of falls and depression, can help us live a longer (if not immortal) happier life!

Beginning Classes: Thursday, 11:00 to 11:50 a.m. in the HOA 2 Fitness Room near the Mesquite Grille and Friday, 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. in the HOA 1 Fitness Center

Intermediate Class: Saturday from noon to 1:00 p.m. in the HOA1 Fitness Center

Advanced Class: Saturday, 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. in the HOA 1 Fitness Center

Cost: Beginning classes are $11 per class or six classes for $54 if you buy the tickets. For more information, or to register, call Carol or Ken at 825-9206. Private lessons are available by appointment.