Diabetes is a growing disease, and it is a fact that Type 2 diabetes is a direct result of excess weight gain and inactivity. For this reason, it is important that people get up and get moving. Tai Chi is a great exercise choice to battle diabetes.
Tai Chi is an ancient form of martial arts, and it a series of slow, flowing and controlled movements that is said to reduce stress, build up muscle strength and cause weight loss (which is beneficial for diabetics). Tai chi is easy to learn, and is a fun exercise that is chock full of mental and physical benefits.
Tai Chi is referred to as meditation in motion. Each movement is basically a breakdown of large movements, which helps many people solve problems by taking one step at a time. Tai Chi also helps you connect with your body and mind. It has been said to be the martial arts of scholars.
In a study conducted at the Florida University, volunteers with Type 2 diabetes, who studied Tai Chi in a supervised environment (2x a week), and practiced on their own (3x a week) for 6 consecutive months, showed a significant drop in their blood glucose/sugar levels. In turn, their diabetes management improved, as did their mental well-being and energy levels.
Below are a few tips on how to practice the art of Tai Chi, and get the most out of the movements:
- For easy, fluid movements, wear nonrestrictive clothing.
- To assist with balance and body centering – keep knees relaxed and slightly bent. Shoulders should also be loose and relaxed.
- Elbows should be lower than your wrist, as raising your elbows automatically tightens the muscles in your shoulders.
- Only small movements that are within your comfort zone should be used. The difference between Tai Chi and other forms of exercise is that your foot is placed firmly on the ground before your entire weight is shifted.
- While away from a formalized class, Tai Chi should be practiced daily, and whenever possible.
Tai chi movements offer the same positive effects as aerobics exercise, but without the stress incurred to muscles, joints and bones.
In addition, the “no pain, no gain” theory does not apply to Tai Chi, because if you feel any discomfort, just slightly change your movements to be comfortable, while still getting positive results.