Losing Weight with Tai Chi

Tai Chi Festival

Tai Chi Festival

Tai Chi is proven to be beneficial in many ways.  But weight loss?  Interestingly Tai Chi works for weight loss.  It offers an enjoyable and accessible way for people of all sizes and levels of fitness to begin a weight loss journey.  It takes time and commitment but it works.

Research has been conducted into the potential for programs of Tai Chi to be used to help tackle obesity, including in people who have been affected by related conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure. These studies have suggested that Tai Chi can be an effective form of exercise for people at all levels of fitness. It can enable people who have led sedentary lifestyles to start exercising again. It can also offer a new and interesting challenge for those who are used to exercising regularly. Tai Chi can be very easy in the beginning, but it is quite possible to work up to an athletically challenging level.

The effects of practicing Tai Chi on the body have been assessed scientifically. A review of 31 scientific studies of research involving Tai Chi found that this form of exercise can be classified as moderate and that it offers some important benefits for cardiorespiratory function and muscle strength. (Li 2001) This means that can be used as a form of moderate aerobic exercise to lose weight.

Another review of the research compared the effects of the use of Tai Chi as a form of aerobic exercise in different studies. This review found that the most significant benefits in terms of aerobic capacity were experienced by those people who spent a year practicing Yang style Tai Chi after leading a sedentary lifestyle that involved little physical activity. (Taylor-Piliae 2004) This suggests that Tai Chi can be a particularly effective form of exercise for weight loss for those people who need it most.

A program of Tai Chi has been shown to produce significant decreases in the BMIs and waist measurements of overweight participants. The program involved sessions of between 1 and 1.5 hours of Tai Chi or Qigong, three times a week for twelve weeks. In this study, participation in the Tai Chi program was able to generate reductions in BMI of 4 percent and reductions in waist circumference of 3 percent. This study focused on people who had been diagnosed with diabetes and in whom weight loss was, therefore, particularly important. As well as helping with weight loss, the program of Tai Chi that the participants underwent was able to assist with the reduction of certain symptoms of diabetes and to help prevent depression among the participants, who also enjoyed improved energy levels and self-esteem. (Liu 2010)

The immediate effects of the practice of Tai Chi on the body have also been assessed scientifically. One study examined the effects of a session of Tai Chi on people who had been practicing the Yang style for at least three months. The study participants took part in a one hour session of Tai Chi followed by half an hour of rest, with measurements taken both before and after the session. As a control, the same measurements were taken one week later before and after a period of rest of the same length. A significant difference was found in the levels of adiponectin in the blood before and after the Tai Chi session and the change was significantly different from the control measurements. Adiponectin is a hormone that plays a role in the control of the metabolic rate. Its levels are related to obesity and body fat. There were also significant changes in the levels of cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and glycerol in the blood before and after the Tai Chi session when compared with the control. (Chang 2011) This study demonstrated the positive effects that practicing Tai Chi can have on the body, which may help to contribute towards weight loss.

Tai Chi can be a particularly good choice for anyone who wants to lose weight, especially if they are not keen on other forms of exercise. Tai Chi can be both varied and interesting. It can be practiced alone or in a more social setting such as a class, so it is possible to choose the environment that is most comfortable for the individual.

Many people who want to lose weight find it difficult to make the time to exercise or feel bored with the conventional options such as jogging or going to the gym. Tai Chi is easy to fit into any schedule since it is possible to practice a few movements anywhere at any time, even if you are unable to make it to a regular class.

References:

Chang, RY. Koo, M. Ho, MY. Lin, ZZ. Yu, ZR. Lin, YF. Wang, BJ. (2011) Effects of Tai Chi on adiponectin and glucose homeostasis in individuals with cardiovascular risk factors. Eur J Appl Physiol Jan 111(1):57-66 Available online at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20809228 Accessed 23/01/2011

Li, JX. Hong, Y. Chan, KM. (2001) Tai chi: physiological characteristics and beneficial effects on health. Br J Sports M?ed 35:148-156 Available online at http://bjsm.bmj.com/content/35/3/148.abstract Accessed 23/01/2011

Liu, X. Miller, YD. Burton, NW. Brown, WJ. A preliminary study of the effects of Tai Chi and Qigong medical exercise on indicators of metabolic syndrome, glycaemic control, health-related quality of life, and psychological health in adults with elevated blood glucose. Br J Sports Med 44:704-9 Available online at http://bjsm.bmj.com/content/44/10/704.abstract Accessed 23/01/2011

Taylor-Piliae, RE. Froelicher, ES. (2004) Effectiveness of Tai Chi exercise in improving aerobic capacity: a meta-analysis. Jan-Feb 19(1):48-57 Available online at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14994782 Accessed 23/01/2011

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