The Balance Tai Chi Brings To Your Weight

Have you ever been in a situation where you suddenly felt a subtle change in your body? Maybe your body is feeling a bit weaker, sluggish, or even a tad stiffer than usual? Maybe you’ve put on a bit of weight, and your body decided to send you a little message. It is interesting how you always have the sense that you need to move, as if your body is trying to tell you something.

Your mind is a powerful instrument. It knows exactly when you need a push and how much push you should be giving your body. One great way to harness your mind’s capability is to channel it through Tai Chi. Tai Chi requires a type of resilience that no other exercise can provide – it requires you to develop the resilience to work slowly and methodically even when your mind is telling you that it would rather do something much more intense. During high-intensity workouts, you can easily tune out and smash your way through them as you blast out tunes to keep you going. Tai Chi requires that you stop and reconnect with your breath before you go through your routine. You are then expected to keep your mind present and engaged throughout. The mental fortitude you develop while doing Tai Chi – which even the British Heart Foundation points out is required for a healthy lifestyle – will better serve you as you face more daunting tasks, like losing weight.

Here are a few beginner-friendly routines to get you started in Tai Chi, if you haven’t started already:

Exercise #1: Tai Chi Walking

As you go through this routine, concentrate on shifting your weight smoothly and without wobbling. Pay particular attention whilst you’re shifting forward onto the turned-out foot as you are twisting your torso. Complete beginners will often find this challenging, so don’t feel frustrated if you have a hard time. Your body will get used to this movement the more often you practice. To make sure you are getting the most out of the workout, try to keep your centre of gravity levelled. Be aware of how much you bend your legs and keep your body from moving up and down as you shift weight.

Exercise #2: Wild Horse Parting Mane

The key to this Tai Chi exercise is to try to combine the weight transfer, torso twisting, and arm separation and perform them in a flowing motion. Be mindful that your legs should be driving the pelvis forward. Feel your spine being in charge of rotating your shoulders as your shoulders propel your arms.

Exercise #3: Cloud Hands

As much as you are able to, draw circles with your arms in a smooth, continuous motion and keep your speed uniform all throughout the routine. With constant practice, you will begin to notice the overhand arm pulling while the underhand arm pushes/stabs. This movement activates the posterior chain on one side of the body while simultaneously engaging the anterior chain on the other.

Committing to a regular exercise routine, like Tai Chi, helps bring you closer to your ideal weight. Moreso, small lifestyle changes like being aware of what you put in your body will also help you tremendously. WeightWatchers notes that the best weight loss programmes work optimally when their main goal is to help you find movement you enjoy. This way, your decision to move becomes a healthy habit that sticks.

If you are still not convinced of the weight loss potential you can get from Tai Chi, you might be surprised to find out that the calm, rhythmic flow of Tai Chi works equally as well as cardiovascular exercise and strength training. The results from Tai Chi are comparable to the mentioned exercises in terms of reducing waist size and cholesterol improvement. A trial published by the Annals of Internal Medicine showed that three 1-hour weekly sessions of this low-impact practice helped the participants lower their level of triglyceride (a type of fat found in the blood). This eventually led to greater drops in body weight.

When it all boils down to it, the best way for you to lose weight is to find an activity that you enjoy, and that makes you feel good. If you are looking for a workout that would help you strengthen your mind as you strengthen your body (and lose weight in the process), give Tai Chi a try.

2 thoughts on “The Balance Tai Chi Brings To Your Weight

  1. I don’t often disagree with your opinions but I also don’t think that taiji practise [Yang style in particular] is of much use by itself for weight loss. You see way too many Yang style experts who are grossly overweight and these are the very people who you would expect to be training regularly and get the most benefit. You need a variety of exercise — proportional to your age and done regularly — to be as healthy as genetics will allow.

    Many years ago, one of my friends was working on his Ph.d in bio-mechanical studies and his team did one of the first scientific studies of the exercise value of Yang taiji long form. They found that, in physical terms, 30 minutes of slow form done by an expert practitioner was equivalent to taking a 30 minute walk at a mild-to-moderate pace. So nothing wrong with that… but not if it is your only exercise.

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  2. I wasn’t going to comment on this topic, because I am in agreement with it. But, I kept thinking about it throughout the day. I found I have one comment.

    When it comes to weight loss, it is important to remember a key point. Calories are burned with oxygen. Even the few minutes of explosive energy that we can produce are replaced by using oxygen. So, it is our breathing levels (increased tidal volume), not heart rate, not sweat, nor exhaustion that indicates that we are burning calories.

    Specifically, it is the demand for oxygen by the skeletal muscles that increases the amount of oxygen we need. That energy is supplied in low to medium intensity exercise by a combination of carbohydrates and fats.

    One would think that high-intensity exercise where you are breathing hard with an after-burn, replacing spent carbohydrate energy stores, would be the best way to burn calories. This kind of exercise needs a day of recovery, so it can only be done two to max four times per week. Exercises like Tai Chi and walking have a shorter recovery time within 24 hours, so they can be done daily. With sufficient duration, they can be excellent for weight loss.

    All of which just adds an exclamation point to Graham’s post. The key is to choose activities you enjoy, like to spend time doing, and will do often.

    Here’s a fun video demonstrating how calories are burned in the body.

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