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College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


Tai Chi for Beginners

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Do you move with purpose?
Want to increase your flexibility, muscle strength, and overall fitness?
Tai chi can help with that!

Age matters, but not here!! Practicing Tai Chi is an ancient technique for people of all ages that involves moving intentionally and purposefully. "Chi" means life energy – and this practice of combining gentle movements with breathing exercises and mental focus can definitely improve your energy and overall health!

Misty Harmon, Extension educator, joins Jenny in the video above for an introduction to Tai Chi, and a demonstration of a few basic moves. Check it out, and then learn more about this technique that can improve the quality of your life – both physically and mentally!

We have free fact sheets available on Ohioline that provide some related information about the benefits of exercise and mindfulness on overall health and specific conditions!

Its basis is in martial arts, but Tai Chi is known for its ability to improve relaxation, balance, and its ease of use for older adults. The movements are taught to both left and right sides of the body and with turns to move forward and backward to improve mobility and offer a variety of combinations. A main goal is to connect the mind and body, for better "harmony" in your life.

The top benefits of Tai Chi are greater flexibility, increased muscular strength, better overall fitness, and improved mindfulness. As Misty says, the movements within Tai Chi can really help you to stay present and focused. You can also improve your posture and balance, reduce your risk of falls, reduce pain, even stiffness in people with arthritis, and improve heart health.

Suffer from arthritis? Studies have shown that patients with arthritis who practice Tai Chi experience improvements in their ability to reach for things, with less pain, fatigue and stiffness. They also can feel less dependent on others or helpless, and experience better sleep.

Benefits of practicing Tai Chi:

  • Improving your physical fitness helps strengthen the heart and lungs, and it increases your stamina. Better circulation of blood, fluid, and oxygen helps keep your joints flexible and muscles strong.
  • Strong muscles and joints improve your posture and balance.
  • It builds your flexibility. Reduced stiffness helps keep your joints more mobile.
  • Per Misty, one study showed that improved flexibility decreased the occurrence of falls by 47.5%. Another study demonstrated that better flexibility prevents recurring falls by 70%. And when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that more than 95% of hip fractures are caused by falls, those are great odds for staying upright!
  • Improved muscle strength helps stabilize your joints, which minimizes risk of injury and reduces pain. Studies have shown Tai Chi to be effective in strengthening muscles by 15% to 20% – wow!
  • It boosts your mood.
  • It strengthens your immune system.

The mind is a powerful thing. It is well known that a positive frame of mind aids healing. There is ample evidence showing the powerful effect of mind over body. Tai Chi integrates both the body and mind. When practicing Tai Chi, one focuses on clarity of the mind, the movements, and the coordination of the body. Check out Misty's blog entry about Moving Mindfully for some thoughtful insight. OSU Extension family and consumer sciences (FCS) professionals share all kinds of other helpful tips and tricks on the Live Healthy Live Well blog.

Check out this article about The Health Benefits of Tai Chi, as well as a summary about Tai Chi: What You Need to Know from The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. It has a great set of frequently-asked questions about how Tai Chi can help folks with various painful conditions (examples: low-back pain, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia) and chronic diseases.

Did you know? At Ohio State, our students are into Tai Chi as well. There are more than 1,400 student organizations at Ohio State, and the Tai Chi Club is just one of them.

Tai Chi really is time-tested and easy to do. Join us for a free, virtual class series and see for yourself! You just need a device with a camera and a wifi connection to join us via Zoom.

The next series starts on March 29.
Get details and sign up at Tai Chi for Beginners.

Here are some other article links that share some interesting insights and research results. Check them out:

OSU Extension Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) serves thousands of people throughout Ohio every year. Our team of FCS professionals delivers the highest quality, research-based educational programs focused on building healthy people, healthy finances, and healthy relationships. We help people keep healthy through good nutrition and food safety, use their money wisely, and balance the demands of life and work. The goal of living well is built into the fabric of our FCS programs, as well as the DNA of our professionals whose mission is to make sure "Ohioans have the information, tools, and resources to actively engage in creating conditions in which they thrive as individuals, families, and communities."