Healing With Energy, Can Tai Chi Boost Immunity? Here’s What Science Says

20 May 2020

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Everybody desires a fit and a great looking body today. You’ll hardly find anybody who doesn’t, or at least about, workout. Forms of exercise and workout have evolved with time. There are countless styles available that one can choose from, and every form claims to have some or the other health benefit. From strengthening your muscles to boosting your immune system, there is a workout style that will give you what you need. 

Speaking about boosting the immune system, Tai Chi is what may cross your mind, as it is one of the forms that claims to strengthen the immunity. How true is that? We’ll see. 

What Is Tai Chi?

Tai Chi is more than just a traditional Chinese form of exercise. It has a number of principles that help people understand their bodies and mind better. The principles include mind and body integration,  control of movements, command on breathing, generating internal energy, mindfulness, loosening, and serenity. These principles gain tai chi its title of ‘Meditation In Motion’.

The ultimate goal of tai chi is to make sure that the life energy, or the qi, flows through the body smoothly and powerfully. With the integration of mind and body comes the total harmony of the inner and outer self [1]. 

Tai Chi involves low-impact, slow series of motions that one must do without pausing. The motions are designed in such a way that they allow you to breathe deeply and naturally, focusing all your attention on your bodily sensations, just like meditation. What makes tai chi different from all the other forms of exercises or martial arts is that the movements are never forced, and apart from that, the muscles are relaxed, the joints are not fully extended or bent, and there is no extreme stretching [2].

Benefits Of Tai Chi

Tai Chi has a number of health benefits. It increases both lower and upper body strength when dedicatedly and regularly practiced. It also improves flexibility and increases muscle strength. It works wonders when it comes to balance. Proprioception – the ability of sensing one’s own body position in space, reduces with age,  tai chi helps improve this sense of balance by training the muscles to do so [2]. 

More than for the benefits that it provides, people practice tai chi as a way of life. It has deep values, strong principles, and spirituality that helps people understand life a little better [1]. 

Tai Chi For Immunity

To prove this claim there have been many studies and researches around the globe. One such study involved 112 healthy older adults between the age of 59 to 86 years, proved that tai chi, indeed, boosts immunity, especially in the elderly. In this research, all the participants were asked to take part in a 16-week program of either tai chi or a simple health education session. After the participants decided what they wanted to do, blood samples of each of the participants were taken for comparison at the end of the program.

After the 16-week session, all the 112 people from both the programs were given a VARIVAX injection – a vaccine used to cure chickenpox. Since all the participants had had chickenpox earlier in their lives, they were immune to the disease, making the research safe. Nine weeks later, the researchers did blood tests to access each participant’s level of VZV immunity and compared it to the immunity that they had at the beginning of the session. Tai Chi was found to increase the participants’ immunity to over 40% in just 16 weeks [3].

This was just one of the many studies that have been conducted to show the benefits of tai chi and promote it. It is now a proven fact that tai chi does boost immunity and is extremely beneficial for older adults. However, the specialty of this form is that it can be practiced by anyone and reap the benefits. 

Basic Moves For Beginners

Warrior & Scholar

  1. Put your feet together and relax your hands.
  2. Breath in while bending your knees and sinking down. Place your left hand flat on the right while it is balled up in a fist.
  3. Continuing inhaling, cover your right fist with your left hand and lift up.
  4. Come back to the straight-legged stance.
  5. Exhale and repeat. 

Brush The Knee

  1. Start moving in a T-stance.
  2. Lift one hand up, palm facing front.
  3. The other hand is in front of your body, palm facing downward.
  4. As you bring one foot forward, twist your body at the waist and push your raised hand forward, while putting the other hand down.
  5. To finish, circle your arms back to the starting position.
  6. Exhale on the push and inhale on the circle back.

Part Horse Mane

  1. Bring both the hands together. One on top of the other with some space in between, palms facing each other, as if you’re carrying something.
  2. Shift your weight to the side of the top hand. So, if your left hand is on top, shift your weight to your left foot.
  3. Bring the opposite leg in front and as you shift your weight to the front leg, move the bottom hand forward as if you’re throwing something.
  4. Bring the other hand down to “rest on a large dog’s head.”

Reference: 

  1. https://taichiforhealthinstitute.org/what-is-tai-chi/
  2. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-health-benefits-of-tai-chi
  3. https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/tai-chi-boosts-immunity-shingles-virus-older-adults-nih-sponsored-study-reports

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