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How Tai Chi Can Help Build Muscle Strength And Flexibility

Its often called meditation in motion: a choreography of slow, fluid positions with wonderfully poetic names like White Crane Spreads Wings and Wave Hands Like Clouds. But dont be fooled by the gentle exteriorwhen it comes to improving muscle strength and endurance, flexibility and range of motion, and even cardiovascular and neurological health, tai chi packs a serious punch.(Related:4 Stretches to Improve Range of Motion as You Age )Unlike running and swimming, for exampleactivities that are all forward motiontai chi involves moving the body sideways and backwards as well. This three-dimensional movement is good for range of motion, and it means tai chi treats muscles responsible for lateral movement, like our hips, says Jing Xian Li , a professor at the University of Ottawas School of Human Kinetics. Those muscles are very important for our balance, which is why tai chi can improve postural stability .And that slow, smooth sequence of movementslike water, Li saysdemands a whole bunch of motion control and eye movement, which serve to strengthen our upper and lower bodies. Tai chi does not have the same impact on our joints as running does, Li says. But when it comes to enhanced muscle strength and endurance, tai chi is remarkable; its comparable to running. Not only that, but tai chi can also help reduce the damage on joints and cartilage that years of high-impact activity may have caused.Theres a reason Li also describes tai chi as a mind-body exercise: You arent on autopilot. Youre thinking about the names of the movements; youre coordinating those movements with your breath. It deepens the connection between your body and mind, Li says. Thats why studies have shown tai chi not only makes people physically stronger but also increases their confidence and reduces levels of anxiety and stress. Not too shabby for a couple of cloud hands.Next: Dancing Improved My Health After Two Hip Replacements

The post How Tai Chi Can Help Build Muscle Strength And Flexibility appeared first on Best Health Magazine Canada .

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