The change of seasons can be tough for seniors with osteoarthritis. Cold or hot/humid weather can aggravate osteoarthritis, in turn increasing stiffness and swelling in joints. While there are medications that treat arthritis, many have side effects that older adults find to be uncomfortable. Low-impact exercises on a regular basis can help minimize the symptoms of osteoarthritis. One of the best natural remedies for managing arthritis year-round is tai chi, here’s why.
Many people who practice Tai Chi find that it improves mental & physical flexibility. That is because Tai Chi is all about practicing fluid movements. That energy then flows throughout your brain and body as you move. As you practice new movements, new circuits are created in your brain. These new circuits wake different areas of the brain which promote increased clarity and cognition.
Tai Chi may help boost upper and lower-body flexibility, due largely to it being a body-weight exercise. Tai Chi trains sensory neurons in the inner ear and stress receptors in the muscles and ligaments. Therefore, releasing tensions and stiffness. Tai Chi is often referred to as the “gateway exercise” because it helps transition to other exercises easier and more comfortably.
Tai Chi also helps build strength in the muscles surrounding joints damaged by arthritis. This support helps take pressure off the joints, reducing swelling and pain. When practiced regularly, Tai Chi is like resistance training and brisk walking. Although you aren’t working with weights or resistance bands, the unsupported arm exercise involved in Tai Chi strengthens your upper body.
Tai Chi’s best benefit of all is a positive mood. Mindful breaths and movements have a positive effect nervous system and mood-regulating hormones. Tai Chi can also reduce anxiety, depression & stress in many older adults. As a result, they can experience better sleep and higher self-esteem.
How To Get Started
You can rent or buy videos or books about Tai Chi or seek guidance from a qualified instructor. Contact your local fitness centers, health club, or senior centers to find a Tai chi instructor. Either way, you can reap the benefits.
If you’d like to learn more or are considering a nursing home or assisted living for a loved one in northern NJ, The Little Nursing Home of Montclair offers a cozy and calm atmosphere with the comforts of home. Call or email us for more info to schedule a tour.