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BillBRNC

Anybody Find Tai Chi To Be Helpful?

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I'm looking for something that my wife and I can do together, but that will also help hopefully significantly with movement and balance issues. Being able to include my wife and do something with generally normal people seems like a good idea. Of course, my service dog will kind of give me away so to say, but I don't care about that. I also completing the Big program thing, so I'm looking for something longer term. Thanks.

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I'll be starting my 4th year i n July and would highly recommend it!!!

Check out the Tai Chi forum here (early onset) to find out my experiences. Excellent for body AND soul...

Taoist Tai Chi is the best / easiest to learn because of the 90 and 45 degrees angles, the others are more esoteric.


 

 

 

Edited by lethe

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Thanks. I'll be checking the early onset board. Also, thanks for the heads up on the Taoist method.

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Lethe, a question for you if you don't mind. Is the class you attend a class for just Parkinson types, or is it regular people class? The classes I have access to are open to the general public and I imagine few if any Parkinson folks would be there. Thanks.

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Tai chi is one of the most recommended programs for Parkinson's members and having your wife along will benefit her also.  My husband has attended his senior center's tai chi class for many years and he thinks it saved his life from a much faster progression of Parkinson's.  He has better balance and coordination.  There are several Parkinson's members in his class-and we always recommend this program to our support group.  One enthusiastic member even gave up his cane and feels like a new person.  Plus attending a tai chi class gives you a great social group-which is another huge benefit for the Parkinson's community.  As the disease progresses it becomes more socially isolating for the individuals which tends to make the disease progress faster.  This is a great long term activity that you should be able to enjoy and find great benefit.  

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Yes, I have enjoyed Tai Chi. Since we're all PWP, it's very basic and balance focused. It's good to be reminded that slow can be good.It is a slow practice which is suited to our speed. I can still move fast at times, but I think walking and turning fast could be setting me up for a trip and/or fall. Thus, I'm trying to be more careful when I'm able to move fast.

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Yes, I go to a special “health recovery” program geared to PD, etc., but starting next month I’ll start a regular one as well. For the longest time I was the only student, with a 70 year old woman teacher who has had PD for awhile, and the rare beginner that would only last 2 or 3 lessons. For the last year I’ve had two regulars. One uses a walker or walks precariously on his tiptoes until he “gently “ falls.....   ( I say he’s just practising his break- dancing)

The other uses a wheel chair and moves stiffly. Both have made noticeable improvements.

The support between us helps too, much of it intuitive.

Either class would be an excellent activity for both of you together., and your  wife would learn how to help you exercise.

If you have any questions feel free....

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After a while the slow, deliberate movement and focus becomes your normal approach to your environmemnt.

Edited by lethe

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I can offer one more recommendation for studying tai chi.  This is my sixth year, and I have moved into the advanced class, where I am now learning the 103-movement form.  Prior to this I learned and practiced for several years the basic 24-movement form.  I am the only pwp in my class of 16 people.  Sometimes I have a day of poor balance.  But for the most part I can do everything the others can do.  As others have said here, tai chi is beneficial to body and mind or spirit.  Although it is exercise, it is relaxing as well.

Best wishes,

J

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Do you also get exercise doing Tai Chi? My PT and Neuro are big into balance and vigorous exercise. I current ride a exercise bike in morning in front of financial news for about 30 minutes and also take a couple of long walks with my dog. My balance and eyesight are bothered by both the Parkinson stuff and the cognitive end of Dementia with Lewy Bodies, so there isn't a lot more I can do, but Tai Chi seems like something good I can also do with my wife so we will have something to do together.

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http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-health-benefits-of-tai-chi

 

The health benefits of tai chi

This gentle form of exercise can help maintain strength, flexibility, and balance, and could be the perfect activity for the rest of your life.

Updated: December 4, 2015Published: May, 2009

Tai chi is often described as "meditation in motion," but it might well be called "medication in motion." There is growing evidence that this mind-body practice, which originated in China as a martial art, has value in treating or preventing many health problems. And you can get started even if you aren't in top shape or the best of health.

In this low-impact, slow-motion exercise, you go without pausing through a series of motions named for animal actions — for example, "white crane spreads its wings" — or martial arts moves, such as "box both ears." As you move, you breathe deeply and naturally, focusing your attention — as in some kinds of meditation — on your bodily sensations. Tai chi differs from other types of exercise in several respects. The movements are usually circular and never forced, the muscles are relaxed rather than tensed, the joints are not fully extended or bent, and connective tissues are not stretched. Tai chi can be easily adapted for anyone, from the most fit to people confined to wheelchairs or recovering from surgery.

Tai chi movement

A tai chi class practices a short form at the Tree of Life Tai Chi Center in Watertown, Mass.

"A growing body of carefully conducted research is building a compelling case for tai chi as an adjunct to standard medical treatment for the prevention and rehabilitation of many conditions commonly associated with age," says Peter M. Wayne, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and director of the Tai Chi and Mind-Body Research Program at Harvard Medical School's Osher Research Center. An adjunct therapy is one that's used together with primary medical treatments, either to address a disease itself or its primary symptoms, or, more generally, to improve a patient's functioning and quality of life.

Belief systems

You don't need to subscribe to or learn much about tai chi's roots in Chinese philosophy to enjoy its health benefits, but these concepts can help make sense of its approach:

  • Qi — an energy force thought to flow through the body; tai chi is said to unblock and encourage the proper flow of qi.

  • Yin and yang — opposing elements thought to make up the universe that need to be kept in harmony. Tai chi is said to promote this balance.

Tai chi in motion

A tai chi class might include these parts:

Warm-up. Easy motions, such as shoulder circles, turning the head from side to side, or rocking back and forth, help you to loosen your muscles and joints and focus on your breath and body.

Instruction and practice of tai chi forms. Short forms — forms are sets of movements — may include a dozen or fewer movements; long forms may include hundreds. Different styles require smaller or larger movements. A short form with smaller, slower movements is usually recommended at the beginning, especially if you're older or not in good condition.

Qigong (or chi kung). Translated as "breath work" or "energy work," this consists of a few minutes of gentle breathing sometimes combined with movement. The idea is to help relax the mind and mobilize the body's energy. Qigong may be practiced standing, sitting, or lying down.

Getting started

The benefits of tai chi are generally greatest if you begin before you develop a chronic illness or functional limitations. Tai chi is very safe, and no fancy equipment is needed, so it's easy to get started. Here's some advice for doing so:

Don't be intimidated by the language. Names like Yang, Wu, and Cheng are given to various branches of tai chi, in honor of people who devised the sets of movements called forms. Certain programs emphasize the martial arts aspect of tai chi rather than its potential for healing and stress reduction. In some forms, you learn long sequences of movements, while others involve shorter series and more focus on breathing and meditation. The name is less important than finding an approach that matches your interests and needs.

Check with your doctor . If you have a limiting musculoskeletal problem or medical condition — or if you take medications that can make you dizzy or lightheaded — check with your doctor before starting tai chi. Given its excellent safety record, chances are that you'll be encouraged to try it.

Consider observing and taking a class. Taking a class may be the best way to learn tai chi. Seeing a teacher in action, getting feedback, and experiencing the camaraderie of a group are all pluses. Most teachers will let you observe the class first to see if you feel comfortable with the approach and atmosphere. Instruction can be individualized. Ask about classes at your local Y, senior center, or community education center. The Arthritis Foundation (www.arthritis.org; 800-283-7800, toll-free) can tell you whether its tai chi program, a 12-movement, easy-to-learn sequence, is offered in your area.

If you'd rather learn at home, you can buy or rent videos geared to your interests and fitness needs (see "Selected resources"). Although there are some excellent tai chi books, it can be difficult to appreciate the flow of movements from still photos or illustrations.

Talk to the instructor. There's no standard training or licensing for tai chi instructors, so you'll need to rely on recommendations from friends or clinicians and, of course, your own judgment. Look for an experienced teacher who will accommodate individual health concerns or levels of coordination and fitness.

Dress comfortably. Choose loose-fitting clothes that don't restrict your range of motion. You can practice barefoot or in lightweight, comfortable, and flexible shoes. Tai chi shoes are available, but ones you find in your closet will probably work fine. You'll need shoes that won't slip and can provide enough support to help you balance, but have soles thin enough to allow you to feel the ground. Running shoes, designed to propel you forward, are usually unsuitable.

Gauge your progress. Most beginning programs and tai chi interventions tested in medical research last at least 12 weeks, with instruction once or twice a week and practice at home. By the end of that time, you should know whether you enjoy tai chi, and you may already notice positive physical and psychological changes.

No pain, big gains

Although tai chi is slow and gentle and doesn't leave you breathless, it addresses the key components of fitness — muscle strength, flexibility, balance, and, to a lesser degree, aerobic conditioning. Here's some of the evidence:

Muscle strength. Tai chi can improve both lower-body strength and upper-body strength. When practiced regularly, tai chi can be comparable to resistance training and brisk walking.

"Although you aren't working with weights or resistance bands, the unsupported arm exercise involved in tai chi strengthens your upper body," says internist Dr. Gloria Yeh, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School. "Tai chi strengthens both the lower and upper extremities and also the core muscles of the back and abdomen."

Flexibility. Tai chi can boost upper- and lower-body flexibility as well as strength.

Balance. Tai chi improves balance and, according to some studies, reduces falls. Proprioception — the ability to sense the position of one's body in space — declines with age. Tai chi helps train this sense, which is a function of sensory neurons in the inner ear and stretch receptors in the muscles and ligaments. Tai chi also improves muscle strength and flexibility, which makes it easier to recover from a stumble. Fear of falling can make you more likely to fall; some studies have found that tai chi training helps reduce that fear.

Aerobic conditioning. Depending on the speed and size of the movements, tai chi can provide some aerobic benefits. If your clinician advises a more intense cardio workout with a higher heart rate than tai chi can offer, you may need something more aerobic as well.

 
 
 
 

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Great info to post, Lethe!  Thank you.

BillBRNC, yes, tai chi does provide real exercise if it is done correctly.  It also leads the body to develop muscle memory that frees the mind and aids in relaxation.  It does not lessen the need for cardiovascular exercise, though.  And, yes, it is an ideal pursuit for couples.  In every tai chi class in which I have participated, there was at least one married couple enrolled.  It is an activity in which men and women seem to have equal ability.

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A few weeks ago I decided to check out this Tai Chi.  It looked like would be a great help.
My friend supplied a couple of DVDs and I started a coarse.

It didn't take long for me to notice that my knee was not up for the challenge.
Tuesday @8am I'm having the knee scoped to cleanup what is probably a tore meniscus.

Looking forward to Tai Chi as soon as the knee let's me.

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