Further Facts for Medical Minds:

THE BENEFITS OF TAI CHI FOR CHRONIC ILLNESS (Li Wei, PHD Candidate, School of Nursing & Midwifery, Journal of health care and chronic illness 3 - 2011 Blackwell Publishing)

Tai Chi is a safe, low impact exercise and is suitable for inclusion in self-management plans as an adjunct therapy for people with chronic illness.

It is a moderate to low intensity form of exercise with METs of 1.5 to 4.6 and a maximal oxygen uptake of 40% to 50% depending on the style practiced.

Tai Chi provides important benefits for people who are reluctant or unable to do more strenuous forms of exercise.

Potential benefits include:

  1. Improved physical and metabolic function
  2. Reduced pain in chronic musculoskeletal conditions
  3. Enhanced immune response
  4. Reduced incidence of falls and the fear of falling
  5. Increased flexibility and strength
  6. Improved quality of life
  7. Improved psychological health in the form of reduced stress, anxiety, depression and mood disturbances.
  8. The degree of benefit appears to be related to the frequency, intensity and duration of practice

People should choose a style of Tai Chi which is suitable to their level of health and disability, and they should ensure that Instructors are Accredited.


TAI CHI – an extremely brief but concise explanation written by Sybil Wong (abbrev)

Tai Chi can be practised in two distinctly different ways:

  1. External Style which uses vigorous body movements and harsh punching actions.
  2. Internal Style which uses movements that are soft, fluid, gentle and graceful. Focus is on deep slow breathing and mental concentration. Using Abdominal breathing and concentration in harmony relaxes the body and allows the life force (the Qi) to flow unimpeded through the body.

Tai chi has been proven to improve muscular strength, flexibility, fitness, arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, respiratory disease and other chronic diseases. It improves balance, prevents falls, helps posture and builds up immunity to disease. It also improves mental illness, depression and stress.

When practising Tai Chi there is peace and harmony within oneself, extending to peace and harmony with others around us and with our surroundings. We also learn humility in knowing that we will never be perfect, that we can always learn from others.

Because all movements are directed by the mind, controlled by the waist and expressed by the hands, we will develop unity of mind and body.

Tai Chi is a very personal and unique journey towards self awareness - awareness of one's body and life force - remembering that perfection is never reached and that the experience is a life-long journey and a never-ending challenge.  On our journey we will reap many health benefits, have improved flexibility strength and balance, be less stressed, make new friends and have more appreciation of our own body and mind’s ability to become stronger.

Tai Chi is an ancient martial art which may appear to the observer as if it is a form of dance, however the beauty of Tai Chi actually reflects the practitioner’s own internal strength. The grace and fluidity demonstrated by a Master are simply the outward visible signs of the practitioner’s mental and physical harmony.

Tai Chi is not easy, in fact it is deceptively strenuous. It is very interesting, it demands mind and body co-ordination, concentration and practice. Tai Chi is a journey of self-discovery which we can practice into our very old age.