When you think about Tai Chi, you might think about a low-impact form of exercise that helps older adults improve balance and muscle strength—and you would be correct. However, Tai Chi has also been proven to be beneficial for a wide variety of other health-related concerns, including lung disease. Here are some of the benefits of practicing Tai Chi if you or a loved one has a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Tai Chi and COPD
Some areas in which Tai Chi for COPD can help patients improve their health and quality of life include the following:
- Better breathing. Patients with COPD have difficulty breathing, which leads to other health problems. Breathing difficulty can be alleviated with pulmonary rehabilitation (PR), but this requires a specialized facility. Tai Chi breathing techniques have proven to be an effective substitute for PR and can be done anywhere. Practicing Tai Chi helps to increase oxygen uptake, which reduces shortness of breath and improves overall brain and body function.
- Greater capacity for movement and exercise. Many people with COPD avoid exercise, fearing that it will exacerbate their existing shortness of breath. Because Tai Chi involves simple, gentle movements that place emphasis on breathing, balance, and mind-body connections, it can be performed by COPD patients safely and without overexertion. There is even a seated Tai Chi adaptation for patients with major mobility challenges.
- Greater strength and reduced risk of injury. Not getting enough physical activity ultimately reduces lung capacity, weakens muscles, and can lead to weight gain. These setbacks can in turn lead to a greater risk of falling or injury. Tai Chi offers a light form of exercise that is a safe starting point for COPD patients, but also allows them to work up to greater physical ability while also improving strength, endurance, and balance.
- Reducing anxiety. Nothing makes us panic faster than the inability to breathe. Tai Chi techniques help COPD patients to slow their breathing, thereby remaining calmer and more focused. In addition, Tai Chi isn’t called “meditation in motion” for nothing, and the meditative aspects of this practice as well as the light exercise also help to reduce anxiety.
Learn Tai Chi Breathing Exercises with Tai Chi and Qigong
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