The Benefits of Tai Chi for Diabetes

If exercise that allows you to move slowly without breaking a sweat, and relieves diabetes symptoms appeals to you, consider the practice of Tai chi.

Studies associate Tai chi (pronounced TIE-CHEE) with reduced A1c levels, lower blood pressure, decreased insulin resistance, lower fasting glucose, and improved diabetes management. Tai chi is also known to relieve stress and anxiety.

About Tai Chi

Practicing Tai chi involves completing of a series of movements. Each movement flows seamlessly and without pause into the following one. People breath naturally while doing Tai chi, and focus their mind by simply noticing any sensations that arise in the body.

Joints and muscles remain relaxed because Tai chi movements - many of them circular - are calming, fluid, and unforced. The motions can also be adapted to the needs of people with mobility issues.

A series of defined choreographed movements in Tai chi is called a “form.” Short forms include several movements while long forms can involve hundreds. Beginning students usually learn some basic movements, and then practice a variety of short forms.

Anyone can start practicing Tai chi through websites, videos, or books, but learning proper technique from an experienced instructor is recommended.

More Benefits of Tai Chi

If you are still on the fence about trying Tai chi, consider more of its benefits.

  • Practicing Tai chi is simultaneously invigorating and relaxing. Those who regularly practice notice improved concentration and focus, and enjoy increased energy.
  • The movements of Tai chi eventually become so familiar they are done without thinking. Then, the practice becomes meditative. It clears the mind, relaxes the body, and develops a heightened body awareness.
  • The free flow of energy in our body keeps it nourished and strong, according to Chinese medicine. The continuous motions of Tai chi stimulate a flow of energy throughout the body.
  • Because Tai chi helps people slow down it gives them an increased awareness of the mind-body connection, and often promotes more mindful, healthier eating habits.
  • Tai chi practice can improve balance and decrease the risk of falls. People with neuropathy pain may find the low-impact, gently movements of Tai chi are doable, and increase flexibility and mobility.
  • Tai chi practice improves muscle tone and definition, uplifts mood, helps people sleep well, enhances the immune system, and increases our sense of well-being.
  • You can do Tai chi anywhere - indoors or out - and it can be practiced alone or with others. It requires no special clothing or equipment.

Individuals with joint troubles, fractures, back pain, severe osteoporosis, a hernia, or are pregnant should consult with their doctor before trying Tai chi.

Sources: Mayo Clinic; Toay’s Dietician; Diabetes Journals; Medical News Today
Photo credit: Luigi Scorcia

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