Home > Exercise, Nutrition & Well Being > Ancient Chinese Exercises Taking Shape in Assisted Living Facilities

Ancient Chinese Exercises Taking Shape in Assisted Living Facilities

September 11, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

“No leaps, no high kicks, no running. The feet always firmly on the ground…movements intrinsically beautiful and at the same time charged with symbolic meaning. Thought taking shape in ritual and stylized gesture. The whole body transformed, like a poem or a piece of music. Movements of the muscles representing movements of the consciousness…It’s meditation in action.”

This was a quote taken from The Island, author Aldous Huxley’s last major work. What he described is a very popular form of exercise called Tai Chi. Based on his description of low impact gestures and graceful movements, it’s no wonder Tai Chi classes are being offered to seniors at assisted living communities and elderly health care facilities all over the nation. Tai Chi is a slow motion, moving meditative exercise for relaxation, health and self defense. Originally from China, Tai Chi has gained an enormous fan following in America and throughout the rest of the world. Tai Chi has been especially popular among baby boomers because of the health benefits this exercise offers them.

Tai Chi is now recognized by the U.S. National Institute of Health’s Office of Alternative Medicine as an important method of Alternative Health Care. Over 75% of traditional medical schools in the USA now provide training in natural, complimentary medicine and some schools have set up departments to research these styles of exercise. Tai Chi is best described as a moving form of yoga and meditation combined. The exercise use a set of “forms” which consist of a sequence of movements. Many of the movements are originally derived from martial arts and from the natural movements of animals.  The way the forms are performed in Tai Chi is slowly, softly and gracefully with smooth and even transitions between them. The slow movement of Tai Chi makes it the ideal exercise for assisted living residents to follow. Assisted living facilities usually offer one on one Tai Chi training or arrange group classes for seniors.

Tai Chi is a good way for elderly people to return to exercise if they have not been regular with their physical activity. Tai Chi can be looked at as a form of physical therapy for assisted living residents to move and stretch their muscles without injuring themselves. According to a new study, the low-impact Chinese exercise can help older people regain some of the physical functioning they may have lost due to inactivity. Seniors taking Tai Chi classes in assisted living facilities reported better physical functioning both at the 3 month midpoint and the 6 month end point of a pilot study done by Fuzhong Li, PhD. of the Oregon Research Institute.

TAI CHI CHUAN by ~bramer on deviantART

The study included 72 people between the ages of 65 and 96. These assisted living residents were split into groups that participated in an hour long class twice a week for 6 months and a control group that was promised a 4 week class at the end of the study. “We found significant improvements within 3 months on a low intensity program conducted twice a week. Our results also showed improved benefits from 6 months of participation, suggesting that additional health gains can be derived from a longer period of participation,” the researchers say.

On completion of the study, the assisted living seniors were also twice as likely as the control group to report not being limited in their ability to perform moderate to vigorous activities. Through grants from the National Institute on Aging, the researchers are continuing their examination of the effects of Tai Chi on senior health. Assisted living facilities are allowing their seniors to participate in such studies in order to find the factors and conditions that promote their well being. Tai Chi exercises have also been instrumental in improving symptoms caused by arthritis, strengthening the immune system, improving high blood pressure and easing the effects of osteoporosis among assisted living residents. Assisted Living Facilities have noticed that seniors taking even 15 minutes a day to exercise will notice a significant improvement in their health.

800Seniors.com is a leading referral system in the Elderly Healthcare industry. We are located on 5400 Atlantis Court, Moorpark, California 93021. 800Seniors.com provides the perfect match between seniors searching for health care provisions such as Home Care, Home Health, Skilled Nursing, Hospice Care, Medical Supplies, as well as a variety of Assisted Living New York and Care Homes nationwide. Take the confusion and hassle out of the search. For more information call 1-800-768-8221, visit http://800seniors.com or fax us your details at (805)517-1623.

About The Author: Gloria Ha’o Schneider is an expert in senior citizen and baby boomer issues. Her topics revolve around Senior Living and Healthcare to provide the latest information to this demographic as well as their families and loved ones.

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