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Natural Awakenings Jacksonville-St. Augustine AND Greater Daytona Beach

Taoist Tai Chi for a New Beginning

Dec 29, 2023 09:31AM ● By Dr. Sonya Lefever
Taoist Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese martial art that has been modified to offer slow, deliberate movements which improve flexibility, balance and muscle control. Tai chi is known as a “moving meditation”, calming the mind as one strengthens the body. This low-impact exercise can be practiced by people of all ages, physical abilities and fitness levels, and its principles are easily integrated into everyday activities such as walking, sitting and standing.

Tai chi has been shown to have many positive effects on health. The Taoist Tai Society completed a pre-COVID health survey in the U.S. involving 3,074 of its members in 29 states. While benefits were seen in both men and women of all ages, there seemed to be a more significant self-perceived benefit in elderly people that might not otherwise be exercising or moving much.

More than 30 percent of participants reported that tai chi had a positive impact on muscular issues, circulation, depression, stress, anxiety, emotional and spiritual well-being, energy, stamina and endurance, posture, coordination and aging. They also felt that tai chi practice improved their arthritis, balance, back and spine issues, depression, stress and anxiety. Fifty-eight percent of participants said that their Taoist Tai Chi practice prevented the need for therapeutic services, such as physical therapy.

Sixty-two percent of participants stated they experienced pain as part of their health condition, and 42 percent of those said that their tai chi practice reduced the frequency of painful episodes. Sixty-three percent of 708 participants stated that their tai chi practice affected their bone density in a positive way (increase or no change in bone density, no change or increase in height, and no new fractures).

Ninety percent of participants thought that their tai chi practice improved their mental health in the form of improved mood, increased energy, improved concentration, decreased anxiety, improved emotional strength and improved sleep quality.

Most importantly, 80 percent of participants responded that their tai chi practice impacted their social situation with new friends, a sense of community, purpose and less isolation. Studies show that being social has a huge impact on health and a bigger impact on lifespan than losing weight. It lowers blood pressure and inflammation, which reduces both the risk of stroke and coronary heart disease; it boosts the immune system, encourages good habits and lowers or delays the risk of memory loss or Alzheimer’s disease and relieves pain.

Dr. Sonya Lefever is a Jacksonville cardiologist who regularly practices tai chi. For more information, email [email protected] or visit