It’s no secret that Americans are constantly looking for smarter ways to diet, exercise, and lose weight. What many don’t know is that doing traditional Chinese exercises like tai chi and qigong offers a promising approach to weight loss and maintenance. Here’s why leveraging tai chi for weight loss may just be the key to achieving your goals in the new year and beyond — realistically and sustainably.
A Gentler Path to Fitness and Weight Loss
Tai chi and qigong are rooted in traditional Chinese medicine, dating back approximately 3,000 years, and they include various mind-body therapies. They’re also excellent forms of low- to moderate-intensity aerobic exercises. Tai chi and qigong for weight loss can be effective for anyone, but they’re especially suitable for people for whom high-impact, high-intensity workouts are too intimidating or likely to cause injury, as well as for those who have mobility challenges or are recovering from illness.
Practicing these forms of “meditation in motion” has been found to be effective across a range of practice durations (how many weeks or months you consistently do them for exercise). Tai chi and qigong not only aid in weight control but can also positively impact associated health conditions like hypertension, elevated cholesterol and triglycerides, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes, offering a holistic approach to health improvement.
Benefits to Your Well-Being
- Mind-Body Connection: Tai chi and qigong are renowned for fostering a strong mind-body connection. The slow, deliberate movements engage muscles throughout the body, encouraging awareness of physical sensations. This heightened mindfulness can translate into improved awareness of eating habits, promoting healthier choices and portion control.
- Low-Impact Exercise: Unlike high-impact workouts that may strain joints and muscles, tai chi and qigong are low-impact exercises suitable for people of all ages and fitness levels. The gentle, flowing motions reduce the risk of injuries while providing an effective cardiovascular workout. This makes Tai chi and qigong excellent options for those seeking weight loss without the risk of overexertion.
- Caloric Expenditure: Though tai chi and qigong may appear serene, they engage various muscle groups, leading to increased caloric expenditure. Regular practice can contribute to a gradual reduction in body fat. Studies have shown that an hour of tai chi can burn a significant number of calories, making it a valuable component of a weight loss routine.
- Stress Reduction: Stress is often linked to emotional eating and weight gain. Tai chi and qigong’s meditative aspects help manage stress by promoting relaxation and calming the mind. By incorporating tai chi and/or qigong into a weight loss journey, individuals may find themselves better equipped to navigate stressors without turning to unhealthy eating habits.
- Improved Metabolism: Tai chi and qigong have been associated with improved metabolism, which plays a crucial role in weight management. Regular practice can enhance the body’s ability to burn calories efficiently, contributing to sustainable weight loss.
- Better Sleep Quality: Quality sleep is essential for weight loss and overall health. Tai chi and qigong’s focus on relaxation and mindfulness can positively impact sleep patterns. Improved sleep contributes to hormonal balance, reducing cravings and supporting weight loss efforts.
- Long-Term Sustainability: One of the key advantages of tai chi and qigong for weight loss is their long-term sustainability. Unlike extreme diets or intense workout regimens, tai chi and qigong are lifelong practices that individuals can enjoy well into their senior years. This makes tai chi and qigong practical choices for those looking to maintain a healthy weight over the long term.
Multiple Options for Getting Started
Once you’ve taken some introductory classes in tai chi and qigong, you can practice them almost anywhere, without the need for special environments or equipment. Further, you can now take classes both in person and online, with most teaching organizations offering a variety of resources for getting the most out of your practice.
Elevate Your Weight Loss Journey with the Tai Chi Foundation
The Tai Chi Foundation (TCF) is a not-for-profit educational organization that promotes, funds, and teaches programs that enable people to learn tai chi chuan and embody its principles.
The Tai Chi Foundation’s mission is to improve health, well-being, and awareness through the study, practice, and teaching of tai chi and qigong by an increasing number of people worldwide. Check out our online course offerings. Sign up for our newsletter for updates on upcoming classes and events.
There are over 200 TCF-affiliated instructors teaching tai chi classes in 30 cities around the world. Find a class in your area, become a member, and support TCF in making the world a healthier and more mindful place today.
By Oliver Herzfeld
Tai Chi Foundation 2024