Staying active when you live with a chronic lung disease is both important and challenging. When it’s difficult to breathe, exercising, even in its gentle forms, can seem nearly impossible.
However, staying active can increase exercise tolerance and improve lung capacity. Start out slowly, find a local instructor who understands your needs and goals, and remember to talk with your doctor before starting or changing your exercise program.
Gentle forms of exercise such as yoga and Tai Chi have health benefits and engage both the mind and the body in what many researchers call “meditation in motion” or even “medication in motion.”
We’ve done some research of our own to learn more about the benefits of Tai Chi for people with lung disease.
Origins of Tai Chi
Even though the history of Tai Chi is not well-known, it is known that ancient Chinese astronomers named the martial art Tai Chi, which means supreme ultimate, to describe the cosmic forces.
Because the art of Tai Chi reflects the cosmic principles, Tai Chi is known for its harmony with the cosmic forces. While Tai Chi was developed for self-defense, it has evolved into a gentle form of exercise, which promotes relaxation and calm though flowing movements.
What is Tai Chi?
Tai Chi is a noncompetitive and self-paced ancient tradition that is now practiced as a graceful form of exercise that involves a series of movements performed in a slow, focused manner and is accompanied by deep breathing.
Because each posture flows from one to the next without pause, your body is in constant motion. While there are many styles of Tai Chi, each style emphasizes the principles of Tai Chi.
Because Tai Chi is low impact and puts minimal stress on the body, it’s generally safe for people of all ages and fitness levels, including people with chronic conditions.
It requires no special clothing or equipment, and it can be done at home or in a group class. It’s recommended to find a local Tai Chi instructor, so you can learn the proper techniques safely.
What are the benefits of Tai Chi?
There are many benefits of Tai Chi for people, including people living with chronic health conditions. Because it’s such a gentle exercise which uses slow, fluid movements, it’s an ideal choice. Studies have shown that Tai Chi can improve the following:
- Reduces Stress
- Promotes Deeper Breathing
- General Sense of Well-Being
For people with chronic lung problems, such as COPD and pulmonary fibrosis, practicing Tai Chi has been shown to improve the six-minute walking test, improve overall quality of life and decrease feelings of breathlessness.
Are there other ways to stay healthy?
Trying alternative therapies and types of exercise are great ways to improve your quality of life. Talk with your doctor to learn more about what types of exercises are right for you, such as yoga, walking or Tai Chi.
With the benefits of Tai Chi, you may be able to live your life the way you want to live it.
Christine Kingsley, APRN is the Health and Wellness Director at the Lung Institute where she focuses on providing helpful online resources for people looking for information on various lung diseases, breathing exercises, and healthy lifestyle choices. She advocates for holistic care that involves working with your doctor to explore all options including traditional and alternative care while focusing on diet and exercise as proactive measures.