The BEST Activity that Improves Every Aspect of Your Life
I’m writing this article to tell you about the best decision I have ever made in my life (besides marrying my husband, Bruce). As a chiropractor, it is my job to help get people’s bodies moving more easily and to point out what they can do to improve their quality of life.
That’s what everyone wants, really, a better, happier, easy moving life… and it’s my job to help make that happen as best as I can.
One day, I was at a seminar about movement and the instructor started talking about tai chi and all of its benefits. At that time, I thought to myself (the same as many of you might) that tai chi is for older people, and that one day I might think about taking a class.
Later that same year, I started to experience diffuse muscle pain throughout my body. I couldn’t pin down the cause and I just got through an entire year of muscle pain as best as I could. How ironical – the chiropractor was in more pain than most of her patients. Well, it turns out that I was not digesting corn well, and once I removed it completely from my diet, my muscle pain disappeared.
With my renewed ability to move my body fully and freely, I decided to take up tai chi to get my body moving better. Tai chi is a gentle way to improve my range of motion, and I wasn’t interested in doing yoga like most women are. I just wanted to enjoy the full range of motion of my joints and I decided that tai chi was a great place to start.
When I got to my first beginner class, my instructor Joanne, cheerfully announced to our group that we would be getting together every Tuesday morning for the next 3 months to learn the 108 moves. THREE MONTHS!!!! I was dumfounded, and I considered quitting, as I wasn’t expecting to have to put in that much time and energy, but I made a commitment and kept going to class.
Best. Decision. Ever.
The 108 moves of Taoist Tai Chi are both easy and complicated from the get go, but I kept with them. Here I am, 4 years later, positively raving and gushing about all of the benefits that I have experienced with my once weekly continuing tai chi class:
I sleep better
I move better
I work better
I adjust my patients better
I am calmer
I am happier
Sex is better
I am full of energy at the end of my very physical day
By the way, I need to clarify my own misconception about tai chi – it is not only for seniors. Tai chi is for everyone! People of all ages are learning and practicing tai chi in all of the classes that I have attended. I encourage anyone to join over the age of 14, the 108 moves are complicated and kids younger than 14 lose patience with them easily.
Better mood, with lower levels of depression, stress, and anxiety
Greater aerobic capacity and muscle strength
More energy and stamina
Enhanced flexibility, balance, and agility
Lower blood pressure and improved heart health
Reduced inflammation response in the body
Reduced inflammatory response in patients with breast cancer
Lower pain levels for people experiencing chronic pain
Improved cognitive function and reduced effects of dementia
Better sleep quality
An enhanced immune system
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) found that people with Parkinson's disease who practiced tai chi experienced significantly improved gait and posture, and fewer falls.
Chronic heart failure
Research at Harvard Medical School and the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center found that patients with chronic heart failure who regularly practiced tai chi experienced a better quality of life and mood, and that they slept better.
Other research suggests that in people with fibromyalgia, tai chi can bring relief from joint pain and other symptoms.
A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine has indicated that tai chi can improve blood glucose levels and immune system response in patients with type 2 diabetes.
The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry has indicated that a weekly tai chi exercise class with a standard depression treatment for a group of older adults with depression could help to treat depressive symptoms.
Movement is the key to life and the better we move, the better our quality of life regardless of how old we are. Improved posture and balance are beneficial for everyone.
If you are looking for a better quality of life, consider taking a tai chi beginner class. You will notice health improvements within weeks of starting, from a posture and balance point of view. I will point out that continually working on balance and posture is an overall quality of life saver for the REST OF YOUR LIFE. The seniors who stay in their homes longest and have greater quality of life in their golden years are the ones who keep their posture and balance strong. They don’t fall as much. They get out and enjoy their lives more, and isn’t that what we all want from our golden years?
So – look into tai chi and all of the benefits that it has to offer. My group can be found at Taoist.org, there are many classes on throughout the world, and all of them will welcome you, I promise!
Dr. Melanie Beingessner is a pregnancy and pediatric-focused chiropractor, a breastfeeding counselor, an infant massage instructor and a mom of three awesome kids.