Tai chi exercise

Tai Chi exercise for Osteopenia, Osteoporosis and a whole lot more. What if there were an exercise that you could do in your own home,that could be done by anyone at any age, that required no special equipment and scientific studies showed that it:

  • Improved balance and reduced falls - thus preventing fractures.
  • slow bone loss in post menopausal women
  • Was more effective than water exercise for those with arthritis
  • Reduces tension headaches
  • Showed significant improvement for those with Osteoarthritis
  • Decreased blood pressure in those with hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Improved blood lipid scores (cholesterol)
  • Improved mood and sense of well being Appears useful for those in the early stages of Parkinson's disease
  • Improves quality of life and range of motion in breast cancer survivors
  • Enhances immune response
  • Improves flexibility and kinesthetic sense
  • has been shown safe for those with chronic heart failure

Impressed? Well, the above list comes from reading only half the studies published in peer reviewed journals about Tai chi exercise.

Tai Chi Program from your computer

The studies that surprised me most were the ones that showed that Tai Chi exercise has a positive effect on bone density. I had long known that it helped improve balance and prevented falls but bone density?

  1. 2004. A randomized, prospective study of the effects of Tai Chi Chun exercise on bone mineral density in postmenopausal women. was published in Archive Phys Med Rehabilitation. It concluded that "TCC exercise intervention is beneficial for retarding bone loss in weight-bearing bones in early postmenopausal women."
  2. 2005 Journal Bone Miner Metab. published "Beneficial effects of regular Tai Chi exercise on musculoskeletal system"

    Abstract of this study: This study was performed to evaluate the potential benefits of regular Tai Chi Chun (TCC) exercise on bone mineral density (BMD) and neuromuscular function in postmenopausal women. In this cross-sectional study, 99 healthy postmenopausal women, with a mean age of 55.9+/-3.1 years and within 10 years after the menopause, were recruited; including 48 subjects who had been regularly practicing TCC exercise for more than 3 h/week and 51 age- and sex-matched sedentary controls (CON). BMD was measured in the lumbar spine and proximal femur of the non-dominant leg (femoral neck, greater trochanter, and Ward's triangle), using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA).

    Neuromuscular function was evaluated, including magnitude of trunk bend-and-reach, quadriceps muscle strength, and single-stance time on the nondominant leg. The TCC group showed overall higher BMD at all measurement sites, with a significant difference found at the spine (7.1%), greater trochanter (7.2%), and Ward's triangle (7.1%) of the proximal femur (all; P<0.05). Functional tests revealed an average 43.3% significantly greater quadriceps strength (P<0.01), and 67.8% significantly longer single-stance time in the TCC group as compared with the CON group (P<0.05), as well as a greater magnitude of trunk bend-and-reach in the TCC group (P=0.08). Bivariate linear correlation analysis showed that quadriceps muscle strength was significantly correlated with the single-stance time (r=0.41; P<0.01). This study revealed that regular TCC exercise may have an association with higher BMD and better neuromuscular function in early postmenopausal women.

  3. In May 2007 the journal, Arch Phys Med Rehabil published a study which reviewed the 'evidence for Tai Chi exercise as an intervention to reduce rate of bone loss in post menopausal women

    The researchers reviewed randomized controlled trials and prospective cohort studies as well as cross-sectional studies using Tai Chi exercise as in intervention related to bone density. They found 6 studies that met their criteria. After reviewing the results of Tai Chi exercise in these studies, they concluded that:

    • The randomized control studies showed that women who began to practice Tai Chi exercise "exhibited reduced rates of Post menopausal declines in BMD"
    • The cross sectional studies suggested that those who did Tai Chi exercise for several years had higher BMD than age-matched sedentary controls and the practitioners had slower rates of post menopausal bone density decline
    • AND there was NO reports of any adverse effect of Tai Chi exercise in any of the studies.
  4. In 2007 researches from the Department of Pathology at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center published a study in the Am. J. of Chin. Med which compared the "effects of Tai Chi (TC) and resistance training (RT) on bone metabolism in the elderly. This study was small. The participants were in their late 70's and they did either TC or RT for 40 minutes three times a week for 6 months.

    The outcome measures assessed were the concentrations of serum bone-specific alkaline phosphatase (BAP), pyridinoline (PYD), parathyroid hormone (PTH) and calcium, and urinary calcium.

    Interestingly, the TC group were more faithful to their program than those doing the resistance training (weights)

    After 6 weeks, (b) both TC and RT resulted in higher level of serum BAP relative to the baseline and the TC group exhibited a greater increase in serum BAP than the RT group;

    There was an increase of serum PYD in the RT group only, not in the TC group; and the BAP/PYD ratio was higher than baseline only in the TC group, and the increase of the ratio in the TC group was greater than that in the RT group. After 12 weeks, the increase in serum PTH in the TC group was higher than the RT group.

To be honest I was surprised by these findings. I had known that Tai Chi exercise was good for improving balance, reducing stress and preventing falls but I did not realize that it, in itself could reduce bone loss. Two years ago, after reading of its positive effect on balance and co-ordination I decided to learn this exercise system. But I ran into a number of problems:

  • All the classes charged weekly fees - so if I were going to do this as part of my regular activity, it would wind up costing me more than $350 a year.
  • Next I tried using some videos but the movements came so fast I could not learn them and I just gave up. >/li>

Recently I was trolling the Internet and I found an ebook with a set of animations of the essential moves. The teacher is Joseph Pang from Malaysia. He has studied under a number Tai Chi masters.

Since his program teaches with an ebook, there is an exact description of each move. Unlike video programs, you can read what you was supposed to be doing before you try it. And right next to the text there is a box with animations of each move.

So you can read the description. Look at the animation. And replay that animation while you try the move along with with the animated figure. And what is even better is that you can repeat a move again and again until you really know it.

I began with one move a day. Each day I would start back at the beginning and do each move with the animations ). If I got confused, I could read the text which was on the screen right next to each animation. After I go through all the moves I have learned already, I go onto the the next one.

I have found this program easy to use. It goes step by step and does not require going through a whole bunch of things before we know what we are doing.

After learning the whole sequence of moves, you can stop using Joseph's ebook and began practicing with the videos that comes with the program. But, unlike most Tai Chi video program, you have already learned the moves so you can keep up with the video.

And if you ever get a bit confused while working with the video, you can go back to the ebook with its animations. I love it. This I can do ...and was really inexpensive.

Now, if you click on Joseph Pang page [link below] , do not be put off by some of the simplistic language. Remember, English is not his native language and he is writing from a different culture with different concerns and values. (The English in the Ebook is VERY clear and precise - he must have gotten a good editor.)

No, he does not mention bone density improvement among the benefits but then the studies are rather new and he may not be aware of them.) What I especially like is that he offers a 3 month money back guarantee......that gives a long enough period for a 'trial of the Tai chi program' to see if it is something you really can do. And it is much less expensive than taking weekly classes.

Well, that is my take on it. If you want to look at Joseph Pang's program, Click Here for Tai Chi exercise program

Go to: Causes of Osteopenia

Click here for Natural Treatments for reversing bone loss