Tai Chi Benefits for Health
How This Helps
T’ai chi chu’an (taijiquan),
which means “supreme ultimate boxing,” began as the most famous of several
“soft” or “internal” style martial arts developed in China over the past 1,000
years out of Taoist (Wu Tang) and Buddhist (Shao Lin) martial arts and
mind-body-energy exercises called Qi Gong.
The slow gentle ‘dance’ of movements seen in popular western media is
only one possible aspect of tai chi training, the one that can most safely be
practiced by people of all ages and conditions.
The full art of tai chi includes more strenuous physical exercises and
meditations which can bring more powerful health benefits to those strong enough to
There are no negative side effects if practiced correctly. Practiced incorrectly, tai chi can strain knees and ankles; consult your physician or physio-therapist or an expert if you have any concerns.
Science and Research
Tai chi is the subject of increasing research and application by the western medical community, especially in the area of ‘preventive medicine.’ See the sources listed below for summaries of peer-reviewed scientific research on the benefits of tai chi.
Jahnke, Roger, et al., “A Comprehensive Review of Health Benefits of Tai Chi and Qi Gong,” American Journal of Health Promotion, July - August 2010; 24(6): e1–e25.
Li, J. X. et al., “Tai chi: physiological characteristics and beneficial effects on health,” British Journal of Sports Medicine, 2001: 35-148.
Wang, F. et al., “The effects of tai chi on depression, anxiety, and psychological well-being: a systematic review and meta-analysis,” International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, Aug 2014; 21(4):605-17.
Webster, Craig S. et al., “A systematic review of the health benefits of Tai Chi for students in higher education,” Preventive Medicine Reports. June 2016; volume 3: 103-112. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2211335515001783