About 10 years ago, a Wheeler County senior was asked if she had ever done Tai Chi or Yoga for exercise. Her answer: “I eats that sometimes.” She was unfamiliar with Tai Chi and Yoga. Fast forward time to the present where Tai Chi is taught weekly at various locations in the Heart of Georgia Altamaha area. Today, if you asked the same senior, she would likely demonstrate some of the moves from her Tai Chi class. The word is out about Tai Chi!
The Tai Chi program taught in our service area is Dr. Paul Lam’s “Tai Chi for Arthritis and Fall Prevention.” It is a Sun style form where the body is upright and the moves flow continually. It is easy, enjoyable, and safe for people to learn. Medical studies have shown the program to relieve pain for people with arthritis and improve their quality of lives, as well as, improving balance and preventing falls for older adults. For this reason, the Arthritis Foundation, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in America, and the United States Administration on Aging are giving it their full support.
The HOGA Area Agency on Aging Wellness Program Coordinator, Jennifer Crosby has fostered new partnerships in the area by offering Tai Chi. She instructs Tai Chi at a senior center to assist in their senior center redesign to attract new participants. It is their goal to provide programs for people throughout the community while still serving their congregate meal clients. Mrs. Crosby instructs Tai Chi at a hospital to help address one of their top reasons for admissions: falls. The hospital’s network of doctors encourage their patients to sign up for the 12 week class to achieve better balance. A seated Tai Chi class is offered at a local nursing home. This class focuses on breathing, instructing Tai Chi movements, and stimulating brain activity with music and verbal cues. Another partnership is with a state park. A Tai Chi class contributes to their objective of a healthier, more active community. These partnerships would not be possible without Tai Chi being in the mainstream of the Western world.
The Chinese have understood the health benefits of Tai Chi since the 19th century. Ever since, the popularity of this martial art has grown steadily. Currently, Tai Chi is practiced all over the world with over 300 million participants. Providing the opportunity to learn Tai Chi adds value to the community by offering a safe and effective exercise to a population that is living longer.