• Tai chi originated in ancient China. It is an effective exercise for health and wellbeing.
  • Tai chi is a series of gentle, graceful movements designed to exercise the body and clear the mind.
Tai chi is one of the ‘soft’ martial arts developed by the ancient Chinese. It is practised increasingly in the West as a means of stress management and exercise. Tai chi is a series of slow, controlled movements or postures, usually practised outdoors to take advantage of the surrounding energy of nature.

Special considerations

If you are over 40, overweight, suffering from a chronic illness or haven’t taken regular exercise in a long time, it is a good idea to check with your doctor before starting tai chi or any other exercise program.

Pre-exercise screening is used to identify people with medical conditions that may put them at a higher risk of a experiencing a health problem during physical activity. It is a filter or ‘safety net’ to help decide if the potential benefits of exercise outweigh the risks for you. Print a copy of the pre-exercise screening tool and discuss it with your doctor or exercise professional.

Physical benefits of tai chi

The tai chi movements can be loosely described as shadow boxing or ‘shadow kung fu’ in slow motion. Regular practice can increase flexibility and strength, and improve cardiovascular fitness. The emphasis on correct posture means that tai chi can instil a greater awareness of the body and how it moves through space. Tai chi is also a form of meditation.

Learning tai chi

It is possible to learn tai chi yourself using books and videos, but most practitioners recommend that you join a reputable class and learn from an experienced teacher. People of all ages and fitness levels can practice tai chi and gain health benefits. It is non-competitive and gentle.

The ‘no pain, no gain’ philosophy of some other forms of exercise has no place in tai chi. If it hurts, you’re trying too hard. The idea is to relax and enjoy the peaceful movement.

Where to get help

More information

Complementary and alternative care

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Alternative systems and therapies

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This page has been produced in consultation with and approved by: Department of Health and Human Services - RHP&R - Office of the Chief Health Officer

Last updated: September 2015

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