Tai Chi and the Elderly

Tai Chi and the Elderly
Michele Jackson
Wright State University


In the period of the Three Kingdoms (220 to 265 AD) there was a physician Hua-tu'o who relied not only on medicine but also taught the 'movements of the five creatures' -- tiger, deer, bear, ape and birds -- a system he called Wu-chi chih hsi.   He believed that the body needed to be regularly exercised to help with digestion and circulation and only by doing so could a long and healthy live be achieved.   He advocated a system of imitating the movements of these animals to help exercise every joint in the body.   His teaching, and its connection with the movements of animals, is probably the earliest pre-cursor of Tai Chi (Majka).  
There have been different studies about the effects of Tai chi on the elderly.   This paper will look at the different findings related to the effects of Tai Chi on the elderly.

What is Tai Chi

In most of the English literature, Tai Chi Chuan (abbreviated to TCC, but expressed in
the Chinese phonetic alphabet as Taijiquan) is described as a traditional Chinese form of
exercise derived from martial arts folk traditions.   The word “Chuan” means “boxing”,   but in some of the literature it has been omitted.   To understand this set of systematic callisthenic exercises, one must first appreciate the origin and broad significance of the term “Tai Chi”.   The term first appeared in the books of “I Ching”, and indicated the encompassing state of the universe before the creation of heaven and earth.   Therefore, all TCC movement is considered
circular.   TCC is used to seek serenity in action, and action in serenity.   The emphasis is on the
exercise of mind and consciousness.   TCC movements are continuous from beginning to end, and from one posture to the next, in a completely integrated circle.   TCC is a moderate intensity exercise that is beneficial to cardiorespiratory function, immune capacity, mental control, flexibility, and balance control; it...