It's one of the fastest-growing forms of exercise. Since the year 2000, a survey by the Sporting Good Manufacturers Association shows participation in yoga and tai chi has grown 136-percent.
The Cotton-O'Neil Cancer Center recently started offering free tai chi classes because of the unique way this workout can target healing.
The movements look slow and controlled, but the tai chi faithful says this is one workout that does it all. Certified tai chi instructor Mae Lovell, RN, says it combines breath, posture and the mind to be relaxed while doing the movements.
Like many workouts, a tai chi session begins with a warmup then progresses through a series of movements. Lovell says it's good for any fitness level and it can even be done from a chair or bed, providing positive physical benefits. She says it provides cardiovascular benefits, reduces blood pressure, improves strength, improves muscle coordination and helps balance, which prevents falls as you get older.
Not only that - Lovell says the Chinese also call tai chi the healing art because of what it does for the mind. She says anytime you become more relaxed, the body produces chemicals physiologically that help with relaxation, and, anytime the body is more relaxed, our healing capacities are intensified.
Lovell says the ancient martial art may seem odd paired with the latest medical advances, but she feels it's a perfect fit. She says when you combine the latest technology with ancient practices you get amazing benefits.
The tai chi classes are offered free through a grant from the Stormont-Vail Foundation. They meet Wednesdays at 7:30 am and Tuesdays at 3:30 pm at the Cancer Center, 1414 SW 8th in Topeka. To sign up, call Health Connections at (785) 354-5225.