Intro to Tai Chi , January 9th, 10:30

 Intro to Tai Chi

The Bozeman Senior Center has all of this and more.  Starting on January 9th, an Intro to Tai Chi class is starting.  

Harvard Women's Health Watch      

The health benefits of Tai Chi

This gentle form of exercise can help maintain strength, flexibility, and balance, and could be the perfect activity for the rest of your life.

Updated: August 20, 2019

Published: May, 2009

Tai chi is often described as "meditation in motion," but it might well be called "medication in motion." There is growing evidence that this mind-body practice, which originated in China as a martial art, has value in treating or preventing many health problems. And you can get started even if you aren't in top shape or the best of health.

In this low-impact, slow-motion exercise, you go without pausing through a series of motions As you move, you breathe deeply and naturally, focusing your attention — as in some kinds of meditation — on your bodily sensations. Tai chi differs from other types of exercise in several respects. The movements are usually circular and never forced, the muscles are relaxed rather than tensed, the joints are not fully extended or bent, and connective tissues are not stretched. Tai chi can be easily adapted for anyone, from the most fit to people confined to wheelchairs or recovering from surgery.

Tai chi movement

A growing body of carefully conducted research is building a compelling case for tai chi as an adjunct to standard medical treatment for the prevention and rehabilitation of many conditions commonly associated with age. An adjunct therapy is one that's used together with primary medical treatments, either to address a disease itself or its primary symptoms, or, more generally, to improve a patient's functioning and quality of life.

Belief systems

You don't need to subscribe to or learn much about tai chi's roots in Chinese philosophy to enjoy its health benefits, but these concepts can help make sense of its approach:

  • Qi — an energy force thought to flow through the body; tai chi is said to unblock and encourage the proper flow of qi.

  • Yin and yang — opposing elements thought to make up the universe that need to be kept in harmony. Tai chi is said to promote this balance.

Getting started

The benefits of tai chi are generally greatest if you begin before you develop a chronic illness or functional limitations. Tai chi is very safe, and no fancy equipment is needed, so it's easy to get started. Here's some advice for doing so:

Don't be intimidated by the language. Names like Yang, Wu, and Cheng are given to various branches of tai chi, in honor of people who devised the sets of movements called forms. Certain programs emphasize the martial arts aspect of tai chi rather than its potential for healing and stress reduction. In some forms, you learn long sequences of movements, while others involve shorter series and more focus on breathing and meditation. The name is less important than finding an approach that matches your interests and needs.

Check with your doctor. If you have a limiting musculoskeletal problem or medical condition — or if you take medications that can make you dizzy or lightheaded — check with your doctor before starting tai chi. Given its excellent safety record, chances are that you'll be encouraged to try it.

Dress comfortably. Choose loose-fitting clothes that don't restrict your range of motion. You can practice barefoot or in lightweight, comfortable, and flexible shoes. Tai chi shoes are available, but ones you find in your closet will probably work fine. You'll need shoes that won't slip and can provide enough support to help you balance, but have soles thin enough to allow you to feel the ground. Running shoes, designed to propel you forward, are usually unsuitable.

No pain, big gains

Although tai chi is slow and gentle and doesn't leave you breathless, it addresses the key components of fitness — muscle strength, flexibility, balance, and, to a lesser degree, aerobic conditioning. Here's some of the evidence:

Muscle strength. Tai chi can improve both lower-body strength and upper-body strength. When practiced regularly, tai chi can be comparable to resistance training and brisk walking.

Although you aren't working with weights or resistance bands, the unsupported arm exercise involved in tai chi strengthens your upper body. Tai chi strengthens both the lower and upper extremities and also the core muscles of the back and abdomen.

Flexibility. Tai chi can boost upper- and lower-body flexibility as well as strength.

Balance. Tai chi improves balance and, according to some studies, reduces falls. Proprioception — the ability to sense the position of one's body in space — declines with age. Tai chi helps train this sense, which is a function of sensory neurons in the inner ear and stretch receptors in the muscles and ligaments. Tai chi also improves muscle strength and flexibility, which makes it easier to recover from a stumble. Fear of falling can make you more likely to fall; some studies have found that tai chi training helps reduce that fear.

 

Our Morning Exercise Group 

A Well Deserved Coffee Break

Do you want to Exercise? 

But Don't want to join a Gym

Try our Exercise Room

(Only $10 per month plus a $12 annual membership)

At the Bozeman Senior Center, we believe staying fit and active is important.  Our professional instructors lead more than 20 fitness class options in addition to seasonal programs. We have two fully equipped exercise rooms located at the center (one for group classes and a workout room complete with weights and exercise machines). Please see class descriptions below. $10/month fee applies for exercise program

MISSION STATEMENT:  To provide exercise programs for healthy adults 50 and over that include cardiovascular, strength, endurance, stretching, flexibility, balance, and mind/body coordination in a safe, nurturing environment.  We do not do physical therapy, but welcome all that have been released for exercise.  All classes are work-at-your-own-pace to take care of yourself.  We seek to promote fun and enjoyment.

Exercise Classes

Designed for seniors, these classes provide opportunities to achieve appropriate levels of activity from cardiovascular stimulation and endurance, strength training, improvement in posture, balance, mobility, flexibility, focus, and coordination, and even mental functioning. Most classes help with preventing falls. Members with arthritis or arthritis-like symptoms will extend range of motion and improve relaxation. All classes (appropriate for both men and women) encourage social interaction that promotes emotional, physical, and wellbeing.

Weight and Fitness Room

 Across from the exercise room, this area provides treadmills, stationary bicycles, an elliptical for impact-free cardio exercise, and nu-step seated ellipticals. There is a weight bench and free weights available here as well.

 

Seasonal Programs

At different point in the year, additional group fitness opportunities for pedometer walking, hiking, walking, snowshoe, cross country skiing keep seniors moving year round. 

Class  descriptions:

Strength Training: To prevent loss of or to increase bone density and muscle mass.  This is a weight-bearing program where each participant starts where he/she is comfortable and uses hand and leg weights to develop both upper and lower body strength. Cool down with stretches.

Gentle Aerobics:  For cardiovascular health, may be done sitting or standing.  After a warmup, ½ hour of aerobic activity at a leisurely pace. The second half includes a rotating variety-- strengthening with weights or elastic resistance tubing, mind/body coordination, balance, flexibility, stretching, balls.

Aerobics Plus:  Same format as Gentle Aerobics, but with aerobic segment standing and at a faster pace.  Again, the second half includes a rotating variety of activities to address all-over body fitness.   

 

Core Strength:  Floor exercise on a mat emphasizing core strength of abs, back, legs. Some weights and large ball may be used.

Yang T’ai Chi:  Based on the theories of Chinese medicine and Chinese defensive martial arts, this beneficial exercise is characterized by a flow of slow, deliberate, smooth movements using the breath and relaxing music. Learning the choreography of the long form improves balance, strength, flexibility, coordination, focus, and relaxation.

T’ai Chi for Mind and Body:  This healthful program is designed to relieve arthritic discomfort and achieve greater mobility and balance through the slow and gentle movement of all joints and muscles. Students experience improved coordination, concentration, balance, and flexibility.  Learning the form stimulates the brain, relaxes the body, and helps prevent falls.

Balance:  This class focuses on strength and flexibility movement to enhance good posture and balance. Fun and challenging "obstacle" courses challenge participants to move with proper alignment and balance, which helps enhance movement for daily living.

Multi-level Yoga:  Our Monday practice is a one hour class based on classic Hatha Yoga asanas or poses that is appropriate for all levels. We focus on physical, mental and spiritual balance as we practice poses that challenge and enhance posture and balance, strength, and flexibility. Benefits of yoga include relaxation and inner peace, self-awareness, increased flexibility, joint mobility, muscle strength and tone, energy, improved respiration and circulation, improved posture and balance, and improved cardio, heart, and metabolic health.

Seasonal Programs:

  

Hiking Program:  This program begins in June and runs through September. The program is designed for those 50 and up. It is a great way to enjoy the short warmer months while spending time with friends and meeting new people.  

 

The Hiking group meets at the Senior Center on Tuesday mornings at 8:15 a.m.  We carpool to the trail head.  The hikes are designed to start at lower elevations and work up to higher elevations by the end of the season.  The goal is to be back to the center for lunch.

Hours: Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Contact us: 406-586-2421

info@bozemanseniorcenter.org

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