Tai Chi & Diabetes: Serenity for a Complex Disease
Tai chi is known as the stress manager. Often referred to as meditation in motion, the gentle movements and tranquility that the graceful art provides are unparalleled and unmatched by other forms of exercise. Tai chi was born in China and over the years has become a staple in aiding in improving health conditions such as diabetes.
Tai chi is a self-paced form of stretching that incorporates a series of movements that are slow in mannerism. Each movement performed flows into the next to ensure the body is continuously moving in a gentle fashion. There are many variations of tai chi depending upon the style which an individual is practicing, although its overall principle and emphasis is placed on movement. The focus of all tai chi is to promote wellbeing and to ease stress. The intensity of tai chi depends upon the individual’s preference as there are both fast and slow-paced forms of the anti-stress art form. Some forms of tai chi that may be suitable for some are not necessarily suitable for others.
Research as recently as 2008 showed that tai chi can improve blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetics. Two studies were performed by the British Journal of Sports Medicine in which they found that a 12 week program of tai chi had a significant effect in type 2 diabetics, specifically with their T cell activity. The levels of the type 2 diabetics’ blood sugar levels fell from roughly 7.59% to 7.16% as long as the diabetic kept with the routine. Thus, it was concluded that participating in tai chi is definitely beneficial to type 2 diabetics given the amount of rigorous and vigorous, yet serene, movements associated with the exercise. The study also noted that when combined with Qigong, an energetic therapy, there were even more dramatic results in improved insulin resistance in type 2 diabetics’ bodies. Many diabetics who participated in the tai chi study program also noted better sleep and a more vibrant, energetic feeling as well as better immune system responses. Tai chi has also been shown to relieve other forms of chronic pain, improve muscle flexibility and strength as well as relieving symptoms related to depression.
To get started with a tai chi program, there are many different options to take. There are books and DVDs about tai chi which detail the steps necessary to learn the principles behind the movements. There are also tai chi instructors, whose help is recommended especially to type 2 diabetics as they can educate clients on the underlying aspects of each technique and how it improves the effects of the disease on the body. There are often tai chi classes at senior centers, health clubs and fitness centers. Almost all tai chi classes run a period of 12 weeks, which allows a type 2 diabetic to see the benefits of the routine and movements. Individuals can always continue into more advanced sessions of tai chi to obtain a more centered and serene approach to life and overall energetic health.
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