Did you know that scientists have discovered that the memory area of your brain is still active while you are sleeping? This is why playing a study tape when you are sleeping can be effective.
Dr. Michael Irwin, a specialist in Psychoneuroimmunology did a study recently of 112 healthy, older adults between 59 and 86. He split them in two groups and had one group practice 20 tai chi moves called Tai Chi Chih for 25 weeks. This is the simplest form of Tai Chi. The other group took classes in leading a healthier lifestyle. At the end of the study, published in the scientific journal Sleep in July 2008, the tai chi students had more improved sleep than the other group. The study showed they took less time to fall asleep, woke up fewer times, slept longer and were more rested on waking.
Tai chi is a common practice in China by people of all ages and is seen practiced in groups in public parks. It was developed by Chinese monks thousands of years ago. It is done very slowly, is low-impact, promotes strength and flexibility and improves balance. It relies on proper breathing and slow movements and is often called moving meditation. It is a perfect form of exercise for people with painful joints or those who can’t do aerobics.
There are six levels of Tai Chi taught by the Australian Academy of Tai Chi in Sydney and even young children can start. There are also many other centres around Sydney or you could look in your local paper or at your local RSL or Leagues Club to see what they offer. Classes are also at school or scout halls for an hour a week it will help you get more co-ordinated, take care of your joints and flexibility without speeding up your heart beat too much if you have illnesses which could prevent you from doing more active exercises. But don’t be fooled by the fact that it is slow and focussed. While you are doing those exercises your internal system is getting a gentle massage and your energy centres are being opened and cleansed. There is a lot of strength in gentleness, or so the Eastern cultures teach us.
It is ideal for older people because sleep often becomes a problem as people reach their 60’s. Often it goes untreated. Dr Irwin says that Tai chi helps you handle stress which is what possibly could keep you up at night.
So whether it be to enhance your sleep, clear your head to have a better memory, get those joints a moving or simply to have a nice, peaceful, meditative, different workout why not give Tai Chi a go?