Tai Chi is a form of gentle exercise that combines deep breathing and relaxation techniques with slow, graceful movements. It can be done by individuals or in groups. Because Tai Chi is largely based on technique, it does not require great strength or flexibility. It is used by some people with multiple sclerosis to help with balance, stress relief and general wellbeing.
The physical and psychological effects of Tai Chi have been studied in older people and those with long-term conditions.
A review of 47 studies looked at the impact Tai Chi had on people with various health problems, including multiple sclerosis. Although there were flaws in most of the studies, the review found that long-term Tai Chi practice helped promote balance control, flexibility and cardiovascular fitness. It also reduced the risk of falls in older people. Tai Chi also improved pain, stress and anxiety.
As a martial art, Tai Chi involves focus on spiritual aspects and on meditation. The majority of teaching in the UK tends to deal with the exercise side of Tai Chi.
- Archives of Internal Medicine 2004;164:493-501. Summary The effect of tai chi on health outcomes in patients with chronic conditions: a systematic review.
Last reviewed: 28 January 2016
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