Breakfast seminar teaches seniors tai chi health benefits

By South Cove Manor

Tai chi master Nelson Chen taught seniors about the health benefits of the practice at the breakfast seminar. (Image courtesy of South Cove Manor.)

About 50 senior participants showed up for a breakfast seminar organized by South Cove Manor at Boston Chinese Evangelical Church on Sept. 28. Tai chi master Nelson Chen has been practicing tai chi and teaching for decades. He leads classes in Quincy. Chen demonstrated the basic 28 steps with an explanation of their health benefits. Many participants were eager to learn this low impact, slow motion exercise.

According to Harvard Health, here are some health benefits of tai chi:

Tai chi is often described as “meditation in motion,” but it might as well be called “medication in motion.” There is growing evidence that this mind-body practice, which originated in China as a martial art, has value in treating or preventing many health problems. And you can get started even if you aren’t in top shape or the best of health. As you move, you breathe deeply and naturally, focusing your attention — as in some kinds of meditation — on your bodily sensations.

  • Muscle strengthTai chi can improve both lower-body strength and upper-body strength. When practiced regularly, tai chi can be comparable to resistance training and brisk walking.
  • FlexibilityTai chi can boost upper and lower body flexibility as well as strength.
  • BalanceTai chi improves balance and, according to some studies, reduces falls. Proprioception — the ability to sense the position of one’s body in space — declines with age. Tai chi helps train this sense, which is a function of sensory neurons in the inner ear, and stretches receptors in the muscles and ligaments. Tai chi also improves muscle strength and flexibility, which makes it easier to recover from a stumble. Fear of falling can make you more likely to fall; some studies have found that tai chi training helps reduce that fear.
  • Aerobic conditioningDepending on the speed and size of the movements, tai chi can provide some aerobic benefits. If your clinician advises a more intense cardio workout with a higher heart rate than tai chi can offer, you may need something more aerobic as well.
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