Exercise for Seniors

Do you think exercising only happens in a gym with tons of expensive and complicated equipment? Or that it’s only for those without arthritis or other body aches and pains? Think again!

You, too, can easily exercise. And you can have fun while doing it!

The answer? Tai chi.

MEDITATION IN MOTION

Tai chi (sounds like tie-chee) is an exercise from China that has been around for thousands of years. It essentially combines aspects of karate, yoga, aerobics and Pilates. It is often referred to as “meditation in motion.”

Anyone can learn tai chi and benefit from the smooth exercise. Tai chi uses the focus of karate without the combat; the breathing of yoga without the twisting and turning; the cardiovascular benefits of aerobics without the impact level and the strength-building of Pilates without the pain.

Ideal for seniors, tai chi is very low-impact and easily modifiable to your own comfort level — and needs no equipment. Plus, tai chi is a very versatile exercise: It can be enjoyed inside or outdoors, alone or as a social exercise in a group environment.

HEALTH BENEFITS

Recently, studies have determined that tai chi improves symptoms in those who suffer from arthritis and Parkinson’s disease. In general, tai chi makes sense for senior citizens because it has many health benefits and minimal risk. It’s also known to bring pain relief, reduce stress and lower blood pressure.

Tai chi lowers blood pressure by improving something called arterial flexibility, or the “ability of an artery to expand or contract as blood pressure changes,” according to a recent article in The Atlantic magazine. According to the article, the more flexible arteries are the better one’s overall cardiovascular health. Poor arterial flexibility is a predictor of impending heart and circulation problems, according to the article.

Regular strength-training exercises (using weights, sit-ups and push-ups) help improve muscle tone — but studies show senior citizens in particular may not benefit from this as these exercises also lead to stiffening of the arteries. Tai chi isn’t touted as a strength-training exercise and may prove to be most beneficial for seniors.

One study compared two similar groups of senior citizens — those who regularly practiced tai chi and those who didn’t. The ones who did displayed greater flexibility in large and small arteries, plus greater muscle strength and lower blood pressure.

TAI CHI AT HOME

At American House, we have indoor and outdoor areas where you can practice tai chi — by yourself or in a group. Call us today to learn more about all the amenities we have to offer to keep you in the best of health!

~An article on the study was published in The European Journal of Preventive Cardiology and will also appear in a future print edition of the journal

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