Most of us know that exercise can help to reduce stress and boost your mood.
Tai chi is one of the best, but probably also the most underrated exercise for stress relief and improvement in your overall health. This is possibly because it doesn’t seem to fit the Western world’s obsession with the need to ‘go hard’ or, worse, the mantra of ‘no pain/no gain’.
Tai chi works for stress relief and for many other health-related issues because it combines low-impact movements with meditation for a body-mind workout.
Dee Ogilvy, who has practiced tai chi for more than 20 years and now runs her own tai chi programme, while also teaching it as a part of Missouri State University’s Employee Wellness Program, says: “tai chi’s positive effects on our mind is mostly thanks to the meditation component of the exercise”.
A small study published in Psychoneuroendocrinology reported that brief mindfulness meditation (three x 25-minute sessions) minimised psychological stress. Ogilvy notes that the effects are even greater when movement and meditation are paired together — having to be present and focus on your movements and breathing helps bring on the relaxation.
Studies have also shown that tai chi can improve the quality of your sleep, improve cardio function, and, for older adults, can have positive effects on cognitive function and memory.
Testimonial on the calming, peaceful effects of tai chi during the “He Aha Te Hauora? What the Health?” Expo at the Manurewa Leisure Centre on 21 June 2019:
“Kia Ora Tai Chi was at the Expo! Jocelyn, Pat and Jeff led us in a demonstration. Tai chi is an incredibly powerful practice for your wellbeing. When they started the energy of the room shifted to a more peaceful vibe. It was magical.”
Testimonial from Edith of Drive Consumer Direction Counties Manukau
Note: Drive Consumer Direction Counties Manukau is a network that represents the interests of people in the Counties Manukau region who experience mental health and/or addiction challenges.