The Arthritis Foundation ( 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”).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.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.Although there are some excellent tai chi books, it can be difficult to appreciate the flow of movements from still photos or illustrations.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.
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Qigong may be practiced standing, sitting, or lying down.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.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.
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