Tai chi: A gentle way to fight stress

Tai chi: A gentle way to fight stress

Tai chi helps reduce stress and anxiety. And it also helps increase flexibility and balance.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

If you’re looking for a way to reduce stress, consider tai chi (TIE-CHEE). Originally developed for self-defense, tai chi has evolved into a graceful form of exercise that’s now used for stress reduction and a variety of other health conditions. Often described as meditation in motion, tai chi promotes serenity through gentle, flowing movements.

What is tai chi?

Tai chi is an ancient Chinese tradition that, today, is practiced as a graceful form of exercise. It involves a series of movements performed in a slow, focused manner and accompanied by deep breathing.

Tai chi, also called tai chi chuan, is a noncompetitive, self-paced system of gentle physical exercise and stretching. Each posture flows into the next without pause, ensuring that your body is in constant motion.

Tai chi has many different styles. Each style may subtly emphasize various tai chi principles and methods. There are variations within each style. Some styles may focus on health maintenance, while others focus on the martial arts aspect of tai chi.

Tai chi is different from yoga, another type of meditative movement. Yoga includes various physical postures and breathing techniques, along with meditation.

Who can do tai chi?

Tai chi is low impact and puts minimal stress on muscles and joints, making it generally safe for all ages and fitness levels. In fact, because tai chi is a low-impact exercise, it may be especially suitable if you’re an older adult who otherwise may not exercise.

You may also find tai chi appealing because it’s inexpensive and requires no special equipment. You can do tai chi anywhere, including indoors or outside. And you can do tai chi alone or in a group class.

Although tai chi is generally safe, women who are pregnant or people with joint problems, back pain, fractures, severe osteoporosis or a hernia should consult their health care provider before trying tai chi. Modification or avoidance of certain postures may be recommended.

Why try tai chi?

When learned correctly and performed regularly, tai chi can be a positive part of an overall approach to improving your health. The benefits of tai chi may include:

  • Decreased stress, anxiety and depression
  • Improved mood
  • Improved aerobic capacity
  • Increased energy and stamina
  • Improved flexibility, balance and agility
  • Improved muscle strength and definition

More research is needed to determine the health benefits of tai chi. Some evidence indicates that tai chi may also help:

  • Enhance quality of sleep
  • Enhance the immune system
  • Help lower blood pressure
  • Improve joint pain
  • Improve symptoms of congestive heart failure
  • Improve overall well-being
  • Reduce risk of falls in older adults

How to get started with tai chi

Although you can rent or buy videos and books about tai chi, consider seeking guidance from a qualified tai chi instructor to gain the full benefits and learn proper techniques.

You can find tai chi classes in many communities today. To find a class near you, contact local fitness centers, health clubs and senior centers. Tai chi instructors don’t have to be licensed or attend a standard training program. It’s a good idea to ask about an instructor’s training and experience, and get recommendations if possible.

A tai chi instructor can teach you specific positions and breathing techniques. An instructor can also teach you how to practice tai chi safely, especially if you have injuries, chronic conditions, or balance or coordination problems. Although tai chi is slow and gentle, and generally doesn’t have negative side effects, it may be possible to get injured if you don’t use the proper techniques.

After learning tai chi, you may eventually feel confident enough to do tai chi on your own. But if you enjoy the social aspects of a class, consider continuing with group tai chi classes.

Maintaining the benefits of tai chi

While you may gain some benefit from a tai chi class that lasts 12 weeks or less, you may enjoy greater benefits if you continue tai chi for the long term and become more skilled.

You may find it helpful to practice tai chi in the same place and at the same time every day to develop a routine. But if your schedule is erratic, do tai chi whenever you have a few minutes. You can even practice the soothing mind-body concepts of tai chi without performing the actual movements when you are in a stressful situation, such as a traffic jam or a tense work meeting, for instance.

Link: https://wisdomtea.org/2022/05/12/tai-chi-a-gentle-way-to-fight-stress/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/tai-chi/art-20045184

Health Benefits of Squats

Health Benefits of Squats

By WebMD Editorial Contributors

Squat exercises aren’t just for athletes. You can do them as part of your regular exercise routine.

They strengthen your lower body, targeting your glutes and quadriceps.

They also make you use your core muscles.

Other muscles that benefit from squats are:

  • Hip muscles
  • Calves
  • Hamstrings
  • Obliques

Squats burn calories and might help you lose weight.

They also lower your chances of injuring your knees and ankles. As you exercise, the movement strengthens your tendons, bones, and ligaments around the leg muscles. It takes some of the weight off your knees and ankles.

They help make your knees more stable, too.

What’s more, squats may also help boost your bone mineral density for stronger bones. It adds strength to your skeleton, mainly in the spine and lower body.

Squats improve your flexibility, too. As you become older, your tendons, muscles, and ligaments become less elastic. Regularly doing squats can help slow down this process and limber you up.

Squats help you feel and look good. Squatting helps shape up your legs and butt since it targets the glute and inner thigh muscles. As your buttocks become firm, your posture and balance might improve.

How to Do Squats

Do squats the right way to protect yourself from getting injured. Poor form can take a toll on your spine and knees over time. 

The right way to do a squat is to:

  • Stand with your feet apart and parallel to each other.
  • Place your hands on your thighs.
  • Look up and lift your chest.
  • Bend your knees to a 90-degree angle, putting all your weight on your heels and sitting back slowly.
  • Your knees shouldn’t go beyond your toes, and your head and chest should stay upright.
  • Hold the position for 5 seconds.
  • Rise back up, pressing through your heels, and straighten your hips back to the starting position.
  • Repeat five times.

Squats are one of the most effective strength-training exercises around. If you’re not working out already, talk to your doctor before you get started. They can let you know if squats are safe for you to do. You might also want to think about working with a professional strength trainer, who can make sure you’re using the right form.

link: https://wisdomtea.org/2022/05/05/health-benefits-of-squats/

https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/health-benefits-of-squats

Back exercises

Back exercises

Back exercises in 15 minutes a day

Do you want to prevent back pain? Try these exercises to stretch and strengthen your back and supporting muscles. Repeat each exercise a few times, then increase the repetitions as the exercise gets easier.

Knee-to-chest stretch

A person lying on back, bringing knees to chest

Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor (A). Using both hands, pull up one knee and press it to your chest (B). Tighten your abdominals and press your spine to the floor. Hold for 5 seconds. Return to the starting position and repeat with the opposite leg (C). Return to the starting position and then repeat with both legs at the same time (D). Repeat each stretch 2 to 3 times — preferably once in the morning and once at night.

Lower back rotational stretch

A person lying on back, rolling knees side to side

Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor (A). Keeping your shoulders firmly on the floor, roll your bent knees to one side (B). Hold for 5 to 10 seconds. Return to the starting position (C). Repeat on the opposite side (D). Repeat each stretch 2 to 3 times — preferably once in the morning and once at night.

Lower back flexibility exercise

A person practicing lower back flexibility exercise

Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor (A). Tighten your abdominal muscles so your stomach pulls away from your waistband (B). Hold for five seconds and then relax. Flatten your back, pulling your bellybutton toward the floor (C). Hold for five seconds and then relax. Repeat. Start with five repetitions each day and gradually work up to 30.

Bridge exercise

A person practicing bridge exercise

Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor (A). Keeping your shoulders and head relaxed on the floor, tighten your abdominal and gluteal muscles. Then raise your hips to form a straight line from your knees to your shoulders (B). Try to hold the position long enough to complete three deep breaths. Return to the starting position and repeat. Start with five repetitions each day and gradually work up to 30.

Cat stretch

A person practicing cat stretches

Position yourself on your hands and knees (A). Slowly arch your back, as if you’re pulling your abdomen up toward the ceiling (B). Then slowly let your back and abdomen sag toward the floor (C). Return to the starting position (A). Repeat 3 to 5 times twice a day.

Seated lower back rotational stretch

A person practicing seated twists

Sit on an armless chair or a stool. Cross your right leg over your left leg. Bracing your left elbow against the outside of your right knee, twist and stretch to the side (A). Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat on the opposite side (B). Repeat this stretch 3 to 5 times on each side twice a day.

Shoulder blade squeeze

A person doing shoulder blade squeeze

Sit on an armless chair or a stool (A). While maintaining good posture, pull your shoulder blades together (B). Hold for five seconds and then relax. Repeat 3 to 5 times twice a day.

Link: https://wisdomtea.org/2022/04/28/back-exercises/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/multimedia/back-pain/sls-20076265?s=1

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 Diabetes

More than 37 million Americans have diabetes (about 1 in 10), and approximately 90-95% of them have type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes most often develops in people over age 45, but more and more children, teens, and young adults are also developing it.

What Causes Type 2 Diabetes?

Insulin is a hormone made by your pancreas that acts like a key to let blood sugar into the cells in your body for use as energy. If you have type 2 diabetes, cells don’t respond normally to insulin; this is called insulin resistance. Your pancreas makes more insulin to try to get cells to respond. Eventually your pancreas can’t keep up, and your blood sugar rises, setting the stage for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. High blood sugar is damaging to the body and can cause other serious health problems, such as heart disease,  vision loss, and kidney disease.

Symptoms and Risk Factors

Type 2 diabetes symptoms often develop over several years and can go on for a long time without being noticed (sometimes there aren’t any noticeable symptoms at all). Because symptoms can be hard to spot, it’s important to know the risk factors and to see your doctor to get your blood sugar tested if you have any of them

Testing for Type 2 Diabetes

A simple blood test will let you know if you have diabetes. If you’ve gotten your blood sugar tested at a health fair or pharmacy, follow up at a clinic or doctor’s office to make sure the results are accurate.

Photo by Trang Doan on Pexels.com

Managing Diabetes

Unlike many health conditions, diabetes is managed mostly by you, with support from your health care team (including your primary care doctor, foot doctor, dentist, eye doctor, registered dietitian nutritionist, diabetes educator, and pharmacist), family, and other important people in your life. Managing diabetes can be challenging, but everything you do to improve your health is worth it!

You may be able to manage your diabetes with healthy eating and being active, or your doctor may prescribe insulin, other injectable medications, or oral diabetes medicines to help manage your blood sugar and avoid complications. You’ll still need to eat healthy and be active if you take insulin or other medicines. It’s also important to keep your blood pressure and cholesterol close to the targets your doctor sets for you and get necessary screening tests.

You’ll need to check your blood sugar regularly. Ask your doctor how often you should check it and what your target blood sugar levels should be. Keeping your blood sugar levels as close to target as possible will help you prevent or delay diabetes-related complications.

Stress is a part of life, but it can make managing diabetes harder, including managing your blood sugar levels and dealing with daily diabetes care. Regular physical activity, getting enough sleep, and relaxation exercises can help. Talk to your doctor and diabetes educator about these and other ways you can manage stress.

Make regular appointments with your health care team to be sure you’re on track with your treatment plan and to get help with new ideas and strategies if needed.

Whether you were just diagnosed with diabetes or have had it for some time, meeting with a diabetes educator is a great way to get support and guidance, including how to:

  • Develop a healthy eating and activity plan
  • Test your blood sugar and keep a record of the results
  • Recognize the signs of high or low blood sugar and what to do about it
  • If needed, give yourself insulin by syringe, pen, or pump
  • Monitor your feet, skin, and eyes to catch problems early
  • Buy diabetes supplies and store them properly
  • Manage stress and deal with daily diabetes care

Ask your doctor about diabetes self-management education and support services and to recommend a diabetes educator, or search the Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists’ (ADCES) nationwide directoryexternal icon for a list of programs in your community.

Type 2 Diabetes in Children and Teens

Childhood obesity rates are rising, and so are the rates of type 2 diabetes in youth. More than 75% of children with type 2 diabetes have a close relative who has it, too. But it’s not always because family members are related; it can also be because they share certain habits that can increase their risk. Parents can help prevent or delay type 2 diabetes by developing a plan for the whole family:

  • Drinking more water and fewer sugary drinks
  • Eating more fruits and vegetables
  • Making favorite foods healthier
  • Making physical activity more fun

Healthy changes become habits more easily when everyone makes them together. Find out how to take charge family style with these healthy tips.

link: https://wisdomtea.org/2022/03/31/type-2-diabetes/

https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/type2.html