Anybody who has been following this site will know it is aimed at the more senior age groups, with tips on weight loss, diet and exercise, plus I enrolled myself into a course of Tai Chi, to check if there are any benefits to be gained for the older age groups. Where do I begin, firstly I have had a couple of emails from people stating that fat people can’t do Tai Chi, well the same people probably find it hard to get up off the sofa, and always have a good excuse not to do any exercise. I am probably the fattest person in my Tai Chi class by a long way, and I have to admit that for me it is a lot harder than for some of the younger, slimmer, and much fitter members, but it just takes more effort, and practise. It’s very easy to say “oh it’s too hard” or “oh I’m just too fat for that” but like most things in life the rewards for achieving something difficult far outweigh the effort required to get there.
I am rapidly coming to the end of my first three month term of classes, and I have to say that my conception of what Tai Chi is about has been totally turned on its head. Before I began I thought that I would be able to learn the movements in a few weeks and then be able to practise them in my local park, in the same way as you see video of the Chinese practising outdoors. How wrong can you be, I now strongly believe that when you start Tai Chi you start out on a journey, and that journey can take you the rest of your life? It’s a journey of self discovery and development, with so many benefits for our health and well being that it is not surprising that this culture has survived from the late fifth century. To watch Tai Chi being performed by a teacher is inspiring, as their movements are graceful and flowing, and you look forward to the day when you can move in a similar way.
So what are the benefits for the more senior citizens, well I can only speak for myself, but like many people my age I had lost a lot of my joint flexibility, and the way my excess weight is distributed my balance was not too good either. I now have far more movement in my hips than I have had for some time, and also in my knees, actually all my joints have improved movement, all the stiffness has gone, and I can twist my body far more than I could. My balance is getting better, it was really poor when I started, but most of the problem is my weight distribution, too much of it around my stomach, but it is getting better. I think if you can walk without any problems and your arms still work you can benefit from practising Tai Chi, as it gives you a total low impact exercise workout, improves your breathing, it also really helps to improve your posture, and generally makes you feel good, but like most things in life the more effort you put in then the more you will gain. One thing I feel I must stress, if you want to try it, and I truly recommend that you should, find a class, just Google Tai Chi and your area, you will be surprised at how many classes there are, this really is important. There are books and even video and on-line courses but, I would say that unless you are a professional dancer used to checking movement and positioning using studio mirrors, then you really need a teacher to help you and correct any mistakes you are making, as getting the movements wrong can be totally counter-productive.