Category Archives: Health Benefits

An Orthopaedic Surgeon’s Take on T’ai Chi for Seniors

Frequent Problems with Aging

  • Decreased activity
  • Gradual weight-gain
  • Muscle loss and weakness
  • Osteoporosis/bone loss
  • Loss of balance and unsteadiness
  • Frequent falls
  • Fractures of wrist, spine, and most seriously, the hip (80% over 65 and 70% in women)

Effective Exercise Program for Seniors

  • Aerobic conditioning
  • Strength training
  • Flexibility and agility exercises

T’ai Chi

  • Flexibility/agility program of exercises, breathing, and movements based on Chinese practices
  • Integration of mind and body in slow, circular movements and changes in the center of gravity
  • Though not all are unequivocally proven, there is a growing body of scientific literature reporting a multitude of psychological and physiological long-term health benefits
    • Increased self-confidence and sense of well-being
    • Statistically significant improvement in self-assessed health
    • Significant improvement in self-efficacy for arthritis symptoms
    • Significant improvement in level of tension
    • Significant improvement in satisfaction with general health status
    • Reduced somatic symptoms of depression
    • Improved physical functioning
    • Reduced fatigue
    • Significant improvement in glucose control, diabetic self-care activities, and quality of life of patients with type 2 diabetes
    • Improved diet quality and coronary heart disease risk factors, such as LDL particle size (when T’ai Chi added to diet education)
    • Positive impact on cardiovascular fitness
    • Reduced blood pressure
    • Positive impact on muscle strength
    • Increased muscle endurance
    • Increased bone density
    • Improved postural stability
    • Improved body balance
    • Decreased fear of falling
    • Decreased falls and reduced risk of hip fractures (according to OrthoInfo from The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons)

CONCLUSION

Now that I’m a senior myself, I recently decided to practice what I’ve preached for years.  In addition to aerobic and strengthening exercises, I’ve been doing T’ai Chi at Farmington Country Club with Hiromi Johnson, a very well-known and respected, internationally certified instructor from Charlottesville  T’ai Chi Center.  I recommend that others, especially seniors, do everything possible – INCLUDING IMPROVEMENT OF BALANCE – to prevent a hip fracture and its often dreadful consequences.  To complete a fully effective exercise program, if possible and available, START T’AI CHI!

Michael Kovac, M.D.
Fellow, The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

T’ai Chi For Healing and Growth

Many thanks to Leonard Tuchyner for this wonderful article about his journey with T’ai Chi and Master Hiromi.

So there I was, seventy years old with no clue as to how I got to be a septuagenarian. What I did know was that my body must have been driven by a maniac. Miraculously, I was still standing and functioning, despite the fact that my medics wanted to replace my knees because I’d worn out all the cartilage.

I had survived life, but I didn’t do it without a lot of bumps in the road. I was legally blind, had a back that had been broken twice and a leg three times. I also earned a torn rotator cuff on the left side, a shoulder surgery on the other, and arthritis had found a welcoming home in my well-broken-in body.

Leonard_WarmupWhy am I going into this long laundry list of woe-is-meisms? It’s to show you how T’ai Chi has helped keep me healthy and fit despite this baggage of aches and complaints. It’s a highly adaptive physical and mental health resource that can work with and through almost any list of age-related groans that we have earned through the years. In fact, you can do variations of T’ai Chi on crutches or in a wheelchair.

Continue reading

Energy for Life

T’ai chi as a tool for healthy aging

by Ferrell Mercer

FerrellBorn in 1952, I am at the tail end of the Baby Boom. However, I am old enough to remember “Never trust anyone over 30.” We could not imagine ever being thirty years old much less retirement age. For many of us the words of my late friend Jim Kellogg ring true. He said “If I had known I was going to live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself.”

As I have gotten older it has become more and more important to me to be and stay healthy. The principle tool I have found to do that is the Chinese art of t’ai chi chuan. Below I will describe Continue reading

Respect The Elderly Week Sept 9 – 15

Respect The Elderly Week 2013 FlyerHiromi T’ai Chi is excited to announce Respect The Elderly Week, a time of appreciation and honor for our senior citizens. Please see the letter from Hiromi Johnson below for more information.

>> Download the PDF Letter

>> Download the PDF Schedule

Dear Sir or Madame,

My name is Hiromi Johnson. I am a founder and director of Hiromi T’ai Chi, a non-profit educational organization teaching the art and health benefits of T’ai Chi in Charlottesville community.

I am originally from Tokyo, Japan. My husband and I moved to Charlottesville 15 years ago. In Japan, we celebrate “Respect the Elderly” on the third Monday in September. It is a holiday to honor the elderly citizens. The origin of this national holiday traces back to September 15, 1947.

I would like to bring this tradition to honor the senior citizens. Hiromi T’ai Chi will hold the “Respect the Elderly” Week from September 9 (Mon) to 15 (Sun). Our instructors and I would like to visit centers and organizations to give a 30 – 45 minute T’ai Chi presentation for free on a first come, first served basis. Please choose your preferred date and time from the attached schedule chart.

T’ai Chi is proven to prevent falls in elderly and people in wheelchairs can practice, too.

I have been working with Mary Williams Senior Center and they put up a video of our class on Youtube. Please check it out below.

I am excited to share the benefit of T’ai Chi with seniors. If you are interested in this program, please contact us at hiromi@hiromitaichi.org.

I look forward to sharing this wonderful exercise with your community.

Sincerely,

Hiromi Johnson

Founder & Director

Hiromi T’ai Chi

Interview with Grandmaster

Grandmaster Wang Fu-Lai graciously offered to be videotaped answering several of the most common questions from students. You can see a translation of his answers below.

1. What kind of health benefits can a student expect from practicing the Cheng Ming system of internal arts in the short term and the long term?
Practicing Cheng Ming internal martial arts can help students feel stronger and healthier. Our martial arts system also helps the Ch’i circulation become smoother and deeper. It can also help the harmony for all internal organs. Continue reading

T’ai Chi for a Beat-Up Old Blind Guy

Leonard Tuchyner describes how he found t’ai chi and some of his favorite benefits studying with Hiromi Sensei.

My name is Leonard. I’m seventy-one years old. I’m a beginner, having studied with Hiromi for one-and-one-half years. There are a few facts that you should know about me. I’m legally blind, and have been so for many years. My condition, called Stargardt disease, is a very slow developing one which started in childhood. So I’ve had a lifetime to adapt to this condition.

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I started training in the martial arts at about thirty, cycling through several different styles, never having a teacher who I would consider a master, or having direct access to one. I hated kata (choreographed movements), and was only really interested in sparring. I was reasonably effective, relying on peripheral vision to block and strike. I also had a good sense of fighting distances with my opponent. Continue reading

Tai Chi Helps Parkinson’s Patients

Research published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that practicing tai chi can significantly help people who suffer from Parkinson’s disease:

If further studies confirm the findings, experts say it appears that tai chi might be an effective therapy for improving a person’s ability to walk, move steadily, and balance. Tai chi may also reduce the chances of a fall.

Read more at the CBS News website. Find more articles about the healing power of tai chi on our Health Benefits page.