Many years ago, I watched a good friend and fellow Tai Chi player go through a major health incident. He was an athletic person who practiced Tai Chi often, in addition to numerous other forms of physical activity. His health issue necessitated a major surgery and a long recovery. He came through it all with an incredible degree of grace, and recovered beautifully. That was when I realized that the goal with practicing Tai Chi and Qigong isn't to achieve infallible health and protect yourself forever from the ravages of time, but to put yourself in a much better place so that if and when something comes up, you have the resources - psychological, physical, and spiritual - to deal with it.
The May 2009 issue of Harvard Women's Health Watch offers a handy summary of many of health issues that scientific studies have demonstrated improve when people practice Tai Chi, including arthritis, low bone density, cardiovascular issues, and Parkinson's.
"A Comprehensive Review of Health Benefits of Qigong and Tai Chi," published by the American Journal of Health Promotion in 2010, summarized the results from 77 studies and concluded that Tai Chi and Qigong offer high degrees of support for the immune system and cardiopulmonary health. These practices improved study participants' quality of life and healing outcomes, improved bone density, and aided in fall prevention.
These results are, of course, significant from a Western medical perspective. Those who practice Tai Chi and Qigong regularly are more likely to tell you about how they help you to simply enjoy your life more fully, and maintain the strength and flexibility to persevere through ups and downs.
This post is part of a series called What Tai Chi and Qigong Can Do for You. Look for more parts in the coming weeks, or click "What Tai Chi and Qigong Can Do for You" at the bottom of this post.
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