Literature review: tai chi chuan's role in maintaining independence in ageing people with chronic disease

Abstract Tai Chi Chuan has traditionally been used and is still practised by millionsof Chinese people, especially the elderly as an exercise and therapeutic tool. Since theadvent of Traditional Chinese Medicine in the west, there has been an increasinginterest in its potential health benefits by an increasing number of health professionals,including doctors, nurses, physiotherapists and occupational therapists. This literaturereview focuses on the increasing evidence of Tai Chi as an exercise activity which canimprove fitness, and that with regular application can lead to an increase in functionalabilities of coordination and joint mobility, as well as improve self esteem andconfidence. The literature review on Tai Chi provides evidence as to the potential forTai Chi in the prevention and treatment of many conditions associated with ageing,amongst them loss of balance and strength (frailty), and cardiorespiratory function, aswell as psychological factors associated with the ageing process.
It is concluded that Tai Chi Chuan can prevent many of the problems associated with ageing, but that further research needs to be undertaken into the use of Tai Chi asa therapeutic tool for combating chronic disease. # 2000 Harcourt Publishers Ltd.
Althoughphysical strength tends to decline Andrzej Jancewicz BSc(Hons), MRSS(T), FSMT Sports Massage Therapist, Clinical supervisor, Polyclinic, University of Westminster, London . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies (2001) doi: 10.1054/jbmt.2000.0178, available online at J O U R N A L O F B O DY W O R K A N D M O V E M E N T T H E R A P I E S JANUARY 2 0 01 conditions of ageing depends on acomplex interaction of factors, andany generalizations concerningelderly people should be read withcaution.
controversial. It is generallyassumed that Tai Chi (also calledTai Chi Chuan, Taijiquan, TaiChiQuan or T’ai Chi) has its beginningssome 300 years ago in the late Mingand early Qing dynasties of China(Wolf 1997), although its roots aresteeped in Taoist philosophy and goback to 300 BC Legend has it that ChangSanfeng, a thirteenth century Taoistmonk originated Tai Chi Chuan byadopting an earlier martial art formused by monks for protectionAlthough TaiChi is a martial art, it has many Fig. 1. ‘Waving hands in the clouds’ — an example of using the waist and shifting bodyweight.
therapeutic qualities. This is becausethe emphasis on performing themovements of Tai Chi is not onexertion or strength, but on J O U R N A L O F B O DY W O R K A N D M O V E M E N T T H E R A P I E S JANUARY 2 0 01 J O U R N A L O F B O DY W O R K A N D M O V E M E N T T H E R A P I E S JANUARY 2 0 01 posture ‘single whip’ or ‘fist under J O U R N A L O F B O DY W O R K A N D M O V E M E N T T H E R A P I E S JANUARY 2 0 01 include a comparative study of TaiChi with Wing Chun which evaluatedrespiratory and metabolic responses.
Wing Chuan, which translates as‘beautiful springtime’, is a style ofmartial art which originates fromsouthern China. Legend has it that awoman called Yim Wing Chun wastaught the art by a Shaolin nuncalled Ng Mui In thisstudy of martial arts experts,unspecified age, a lower ventilatoryequivalent for oxygen was shown byTai Chi practitioners. This maysuggest that practising Tai Chiresults in better breathing patternthan Wing Chun, which is more ofan energetic martial art andtherefore less useful for the elderly.
This in turn may suggest that Tai Fig. 2. Postures responsible for increasing hand grip strength.
Chi breathing patterns are moreuseful than higher intensityexercises, which is relevant in regardto possible benefits in ageing people.
J O U R N A L O F B O DY W O R K A N D M O V E M E N T T H E R A P I E S JANUARY 2 0 01 people ‘‘with’’ chronic disease?’, Arnetz BB, Theorell T, Levi L, Kallner A, psychoendocrine and metabolic effects.
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