T’ai chi ch’üan or simply Tai Chi is a form of martial arts that took birth in China. It is classified as an internal martial art as it focuses on the qi – mental and spiritual aspects.
The core of Tai Chi puts emphasis on an erect spine, breathing deep from the abdomen, and performing a range of slow and natural movements of the hands. It has many forms, and individuals practice them according to their requirements.
In recent studies, it has been known to have many health benefits. Let us have a look at how the heart can benefit from Tai Chi.
1. It increases the metabolic rate.
Physically, it involves making natural but controlled and graceful movements with the body and the limbs. It is classified as a low to medium intensity aerobic which pushes the metabolic activity up to 4.6 METS. To give you an idea, a person at rest has a metabolic activity of 1 METS. When this happens, your heart rate increases up to 74% which is an excellent exercise for the heart as well as the body.
2. It reduces stress.
When you practice Tai Chi, it makes you aware of yourself and your behaviours. It makes you put a check in any negative thoughts of actions that may be producing stress in the body. This, in turn, produces good hormones that elevate your mood and calms your heart and your mind.
3. Deep breathing improves circulation.
The nature of deep meditative breathing of Tai Chi encourages abdominal breathing which has a significant effect on your circulatory system. When you breathe from the diaphragm and enter a calm state of mind, blood vessels are known to dilate improving blood flow through the entire body. The blood sugar level and the cholesterol are also reduced. Hence, the circulatory, as well as the nervous system, are boosted. This entire process relieves the burden on the heart and improves its health.
4. It reduces blood pressure.
Individuals who have a history of coronary heart diseases and practice Tai Chi regularly have been observed with low blood pressure. High diastolic blood pressure is one of the primary causes of multiple heart ailments and strokes among the middle age and above population.
5. It reduces inflammation.
All significant forms of illness in the body are due to inflammation, especially in the cardiovascular and nervous system. This inflammation raises the C-reactive protein in the blood, which increases heart diseases. Tai Chi is known to reduce inflammation as well as CRP in the blood which reduces the risk of heart diseases.
6. You gain support socially.
Tai Chi is a social activity. It is a fact that people who have an active support group have healthier hearts than those who don’t. When you practice this meditative form of martial arts, you regularly interact with other practitioners, the instructor and so on. As a result, you develop a rapport, and because you have similar interests, it can benefit your social life which in turn is good for the heart.
Who can practice Tai Chi?
It is very gentle and a calm physical activity that can be practiced by the very young as well as the very old. It does not put the body through strenuous exercise such as running or lifting weights.
Apart from people with cardiovascular ailments, patients of asthma, joint pains, fibromyalgia and people who have stressful jobs can immensely benefit from practicing Tai Chi. It also improves strength and endurance although people who don’t practice it find it incredibly hard to believe it.
As we can conclude from the above discussion, Tai Chi has many heart and health benefits. It can easily fit into any lifestyle and be practiced anywhere, even at the comfort of your home. It is not something that the current generation discovered to deal with their stressful lifestyle. It is an ancient practice that has been around for thousands of years, and its benefit experienced and attested.
The heart is one of the major organs of the human body, and it cannot be replaced. It is the seat of our emotional well being as well as our entire being. We ought to take the best possible care of it. It is comfortable, convenient and extremely beneficial for the heart, so why not embrace Tai Chi for heart?
Image Credits: Tai Chi from Ulsa /Shutterstock