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Tai chi can improve life for people with chronic health conditions

September 24, 2015

About the Author

photo of Julie Corliss

Julie Corliss, Executive Editor, Harvard Heart Letter

Julie Corliss is the executive editor of the Harvard Heart Letter. Before working at Harvard, she was a medical writer and editor at HealthNews, a consumer newsletter affiliated with The New England Journal of Medicine. She … See Full Bio
View all posts by Julie Corliss


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October 26, 2015

a “black belt” in Tai Chi? LOL!! Yes, there are martial aspects to the discipline, but no belts.

Joanna Vlassopulos
October 2, 2015

Great article to read very encouraging..something very beneficial to know.

Adi R.Cooper
September 24, 2015

This is Very Good
Can YOU show or EMAIL mebsomething exercises FOR osteoarthritis

September 24, 2015

Great article. It seems like every week a new study comes out on the benefits of Tai Chi. As a practitioner for 18 years and a teacher of the art for 6 years through a Senior Services Center fall prevention program in my area I don’t recommend learning with a DVD or online video for beginners for several reasons. First a DVD can’t tell you if you are doing it wrong and it can’t answer questions. Also, many students need constant encouragement to practice at home or they don’t practice. Life gets in the way. Many seniors take up Tai Chi as a way to improve balance or help prevent a fall. While Tai Chi doesn’t have any side effects if done correctly, many seniors can exacerbate back problems or hurt their knees without proper instruction. I’ve noticed that many videos do Tai Chi in a very low posture to build up leg strength. But with seniors who may already have knee problems this can hurt them further. An online video may presents Tai Chi in a martial art version and this would not be a good idea for seniors. A DVD or online video can be a great learning aid along with instruction from a knowledgeable trainer. It can be a review for someone who has already learned Tai Chi. Tai Chi isn’t just moving through various postures. It’s all about being aware of your balance and moving it from one foot to the other slowly as you progress through the postures. You are meditating on your balance as you flow through the form. While most students learn the form fairly quick in a matter of weeks or months, I look back on my practice and I think I really didn’t understand Tai Chi for several years even with several excellent teachers. I try to pass on my knowledge of Tai Chi as well as experience. A DVD or video can’t do that effectively.

Jennie Anderson
September 29, 2015

Thank you for sharing your insight. Rgds, Jennie

October 1, 2015

I agree with Wayne that learning Tai Chi from a DVD or online video is not the best choice. I personally tried to do so to save money but was very disappointed. I decided to join a school where I found great personal instruction and commeraderie with other students. After practicing Tai Chi for a few years my physical condition improved so much that I started training in Kung Fu. Now I’m at a black belt level in both disciplines, have lost 20 pounds of fat, and no longer have back problems. Plus, my resting heart rate has dropped approximately 10 beats and my stress levels are much lower. I’m a professional counselor and clinical director at a large community non-profit organization and have been spreading the word about, as well as demonstrating, Tai Chi among my colleagues, staff, and sister organizations. In celebrating World Mental Health Day I’ll be doing another Tai Chi demo. I highly encourage anyone who interested to try Tai Chi at a school or other in-person program. Thanks Harvard Medical for your research and publications on Tai Chi!

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