A Rheumatologist’s perspective of the Health Benefits of Tai Chi

Dr. Vincent Mak, a rheumatologist with his own practice in Markham, Ontario; who is also a student of Sifu Bao Sen Liang, spoke to over 200 guests at the school spring dinner of 2017.  Below is a summary of his speech about the health benefits of tai chi.

 

First of all I would like to congratulate all of you here: you have made an excellent choice with your deciding to learn and practice Tai Chi.

As a rheumatologist, I have seen many patients’ conditions made worse due to lack of muscle strength, poor balance, which in turn lead to muscle strain, injuries and falls. Every day I tell my patients to exercise. And Tai Chi is an excellent choice for my patients.

Tai Chi is effective in improving the following body functions:

  1. Maintaining muscle bulk and strength: naturally there is an age related decline in muscle mass. Tai Chi can help in reducing this.
  2. Improving and maintaining flexibility of body and limbs: by subjecting the body, arms and legs through movements during the different forms, one can help improve the range of movements and reduce stiffness.
  3. Improving body balance
  4. Improving lung function: through breathing exercises as part of tai chi practice.

Medical research has indeed confirmed evidence of beneficial effects of Tai Chi in many different illnesses:

  • Patients with osteoarthritis of knees and hips can improve their sitting to standing time by practicing Tai Chi
  • Patients with fibromyalgia (chronic pain) can have improved symptoms by practicing Tai Chi.
  • Parkinson’s patients have improved walking and reduced falls by practicing Tai Chi.
  • Depression patients have improved symptoms with Tai Chi practice.
  • Type 2 diabetes patients have improved glucose control by practicing Tai Chi.
  • Chronic heart failure patients and chronic obstructive lung disease patients have less shortness of breath after practicing Tai Chi.
  • Dementia patients have improvement in their function by practicing Tai Chi.

So, Tai Chi is indeed an excellent form of exercises with many proven health benefits. It is suitable for all age groups, and couples can practice together for many years. I would strongly recommend all of you to continue practicing it, and to encourage more people to learn it.