TYLER (KYTX) - It may not be strenuous, but the health benefits of tai chi are endless. Some East Texans practicing the martial art for more than a decade are finding Fit City Success in the exercise.
The great thing about tai chi is it's one of those exercises almost anybody can do and be successful, especially seniors.
The movements are gentle, yet they focus your mind and challenge your body.
"I had read that everybody over the age of 65 could expect to have a major fall and I thought I don't think I want to do that."
That's why Ruth Ann Wofford joined her first tai chi class 13 years ago. The ancient art uses movements in a slow, graceful manner. Ruth Ann says it helps with her balance. "One time I was going up some steps and there was a platform for entry and I stumbled and I thought if I catch myself I will break my wrist, so I went into a tai chi mode," says Wofford.
Ruth Ann says tai chi also helps her stay physically fit making her and fellow tai chi classmate, Carol Kronenberg, better grandmothers. "Yes, because I have grandchildren and I would like to be able to catch them and carry them so it is very important to me," says Kronenberg.
Carol's 13 years of tai chi not only exercises her body, it gives her mind a workout too. "We learn several forms and the forms are very subtly different from one another and just to remember them and what order they come and in which form," says Kronenberg. "You have to focus in on it and that is the part that teaches you some mental goodness, acuity."
Studies show tai chi has numerous benefits: It can reduce stress, anxiety and depression. It not only improves balance, but also flexibility and muscle strength. It lowers blood pressure, improves cardio-vascular fitness in older adults, relieves chronic pain, increases energy, endurance and agility and improves overall feelings of well being.
"I think it is a thing you internalize," says Kronenberg. "You stand better and you are more centered."
"I don't know where're I would be without it," says Wofford.
East Texas seniors aren't the only ones achieving Fit City success with tai chi...
Because it's low impact, experts say it is also a good choice for people who are carrying extra weight. With regular practice, they say you will burn calories and lose weight.