Bill Cartmell, Instructor
Cell: (480) 518-3055
Health Benefits of Tai Chi
The concept of Health to the Chinese and health in the West is very different. We in the West have long considered
the body to be like a car. When it breaks we bring it to the mechanic and hope that it can be fixed. The Chinese, on the
other hand, learned long ago that the body is like a garden that must be weeded, nourished, and well tended. The West
has been clouded by the curative approach to health - we wait until we get sick before seeking to care for ourselves. The
Chinese take the preventative route, using natural methods in order to avoid illness.
The most basic reason for undertaking the practice of Tai Chi is simply to increase your sense of well-being and health.
When practiced properly, Tai Chi and active Qigong includes stretching, deep breathing, low-impact conditioning,
and isometrics. It increases your range of motion, builds strength, increases stamina, and improves balance and
Tai Chi also extends to the goal of longevity and immortality. Tai Chi practice enables increased stimulation of blood
flow, an increased sense of well-being, and a tranquil body and mind. These are the very catalysts for bringing someone
into old age with glowing health, which the Chinese call "Youthfulness within old age."
In the Chinese view, old age is wonderful providing you have your health. Without health even your youth can be pure
misery. To have health within one's senior years is of utmost importance to the Chinese, and everything else is
secondary. That is why millions of Chinese practice Tai Chi and Qigong every day.
Other benefits of Tai Chi and Qigong practice include:
Healthy Heart and Blood Pressure
Tai Chi and Qigong strengthens the heart muscle and increases the stroke volume, the amount of blood pumped per
minute, so that more oxygen can be delivered to the tissues and more waste products carried away. It also causes the
resting heart rate to drop. It also lowers high blood pressure. It is likely that relaxation and deep abdominal respiration
cause the blood vessels to relax and dilate slightly, creating less resistance to blood flow and thus reduce blood pressure.
Tai Chi and Qigong practice increases the volume of blood flowing to the brain, hands and feet, and in the small
capillaries throughout the body. The deep relaxation one achieves during Tai Chi and Qigong practice causes the blood
vessels to gently dilate, enabling them to carry more blood.
There are many reasons that Tai Chi and Qigong benefits digestion. Abdominal breathing massages the digestive
organs. As the diaphragm drops and rises, the muscles involved in pushing the food through the esophagus toward the
stomach are stimulated. As blood circulation improves and students make necessary adjustments in diet and lifestyle,
hemorrhoids often shrink or disappear. General bodily relaxation, may account for the cure of psychosomatic digestive
disorders and some types of ulcers.
The Brain: State of Body and State of Mind
Many studies have shown that Tai Chi and Qigong practice causes a shift in the brain waves, reducing abnormal
patterns in diseased patients and improving functioning of the healthy. If poor oxygen delivery can produce abnormal
brain waves and predispose one to psychological problems, then it follows that better breathing can improve brain and
psychological health. The predominance of alpha indicates that Tai Chi and Qigong induces a relaxed and focused state
of mind. The simultaneous presence of theta means that the practitioner is becoming aware of deeper levels of
consciousness. The increasing degree of coherence suggests that conflicting aspects of the self are being harmonized.
The practitioner is becoming a whole, integrated human being.
Studies on Tai Chi and Qigong have shown that when the subject practiced Tai Chi and Qigong 30 minutes before
work each day they reported improvements in open- mindedness, willpower, health, and happiness. Mental health is often
the result of improved physical health. As physical problems are cured or alleviated, the mind becomes clearer and better
able to cope with or find solutions to personal problems.
Respiratory System and Asthma
Tai Chi And Qigong increases vitality because it conserves energy by lowering the metabolic rate. The body relaxes;
the heart beats more slowly and regularly; the mind becomes quiet.
In Tai Chi and Qigong breathing, the lower abdomen moves out with inhalation and in with exhalation. This method,
called either "abdominal" or "diaphragmatic" breathing, conserves energy since less is required to move the abdomen
than to move the chest. Most importantly, it creates the most favorable conditions for absorbing oxygen and releasing
Of the chronic respiratory diseases, asthma, because of its prevalence in China, has commanded the most attention
and drawn the best research. Out of ninety-nine test subjects who were taught and practiced Tai Chi and Qigong daily
at Shanghai No. 6 People's Hospital for one to two months, after four years thirty patients had been free of attacks for at
least one year, 63 patients had marked improvements and only six cases showed no change or improvement.
Tai Chi and Qigong cannot miraculously change your chronological age, but it can change your functional age. A fifty
year old can have the health and vitality of thirty-year old. Chinese research has shown that with long-term, regular
practice of Tai Chi and Qigong can improve many of the biomarkers of aging, including vital capacity, blood pressure,
cholesterol levels, hormone levels, kidney function, mental acuity (especially memory), vision and hearing, skin elasticity,
bone density, reaction time, physical strength, and immune function.