Seniors Using Tai Chi To Stay Balanced, Sharp

Wednesday, February 23rd 2011, 6:36 pm
By: News 9

Kirsten McIntyre, News 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Experts said staying active can help prevent or delay Alzheimer's and many other diseases and disabilities.

Walking, swimming, biking are all exercises older adults and seniors can do to stay healthy, but Tai Chi has gained popularity in recent years.

Tai Chi is designed to exercise the mind and body and for some Oklahomans, it's doing just that. The exercise looks like a slow, synchronized dance. But for senior Oklahomans taking Tai Chi, the movements relax the mind and improve the body.

"If you're active, you might stand the chance of living a couple of days longer," said LaRue Medders, who takes Tai Chi.

Medders began taking the classes several years ago as a way to help his wife.

"We had been under the impression this would help us and it has. It improves her balance considerably," Medders said.

Bonnie McCann started Tai Chi after her husband passed away.

"I was very stressed. I needed something to learn to relax and learning my balance better was just a bonus, but now I've learned to relax more," McCann said.

Tai Chi was originally developed in ancient China for self-defense, but the exercise now is used to help with a number of health conditions.

"As you grow older, you're losing that balance instinct, and that's one of the main things Tai Chi teaches you to learn when you're in balance," said Joan Harper, Tai Chi instructor. "So it keeps your critical thinking going it keeps, the breathing going, it gets you to relax and it keeps you balanced. That's why it's really important for seniors."

Experts said besides balance exercises, seniors should also concentrate on activities that build endurance and strengthen muscle. They should also do stretching exercises to keep the body limber and flexible.

Tai Chi classes are available through Integris Health. Call 405-949-3891 for more details.