Physical wellness involves respecting your body’s own uniqueness and diversity and engaging in practices that move you toward a higher level of health, such as eating healthfully and being active. We need our bodies to be in optimal condition to successfully accomplish daily tasks while feeling great. Exploring alternative forms of exercise such as tai chi, can make fitness more enjoyable while in addition to working on other dimensions of wellness.
There are very few structured workouts that involve both physical and mindfulness exercises. The practice of tai chi is a martial arts exercise that involves elements of yoga and meditation. The physical element of tai chi involves directing and regulating attention to imitating an instructor’s choreography. The mindfulness or emotional wellness component involves keeping an open mind and positive attitude. Research has shown that tai chi has many positive health benefits that can improve the overall quality of an individual’s life.
Six ways tai chi improves physical health
Physical strength: Research shows that after individuals took 12 weeks of tai chi classes, an improvement in upper and lower body strength was shown. These results are similar to the benefits of resistance training.
Balance: Individuals with multiple sclerosis who were enrolled in tai chi classes scored significantly better than individuals who received treatment as usual. Tai chi improves the sensory neurons in the inner ear and improves muscle strength and flexibility.
Sleep: The mental aspect of tai chi is to achieve an open mind and tune-in to oneself. This training improves the quality and quantity of an individual’s sleep. It is important for students to receive an appropriate amount of sleep in order to effectively retain and interpret information.
Stress Relief: The meditative practice of tai chi is a therapeutic process that relieves everyday stresses. After practicing this exercise individuals develop a positive mind and attitude. Students in higher education often report high levels of stress. Practicing tai chi and meditation can decrease the level of stress in your life and lead to a more enjoyable experience at college.
Depression: Tai chi promotes a positive attitude and open mind, which can help lower depression in people who practice. Studies have shown that there is a main effect in the decrease in depression scores after participating in multiple tai chi classes.
Fatigue: Tai chi has been shown to increase endurance and stamina. If an individual is consistently tired, it can be difficult to focus. Practicing tai chi can decrease the effects of fatigue and improve your overall learning experience.
Tai chi available from Health Promotion and Wellness
Health Promotions and Wellness Center offers free tai chi classes for employees and students. View class information and sign up.
Challenge yourself to make YOU a priority! Seven is a free program from Health Promotion and Wellness for students, faculty, and staff that focuses on the importance of the seven dimensions of wellness: emotional, environmental, intellectual, physical, social, spiritual, and vocational. Seven runs from September to the end of April, and you can join at any time. Participants log wellness activities to earn points toward monthly prize drawings and compete toward end of the year overall point totals. Participants also receive the Seven e-newsletter and information on campus wellness events. For additional details and to sign up, visit Wellness.IllinoisState.edu/Seven.