CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Tai Chi requires physical and mental strength. In China, it was originally done as a martial art, but these days, most people turn to it for relaxation, but there are other benefits, too.
According to a new report, Tai Chi improves balance, relieves pain and also benefits the heart. In fact, studies show it can help patients who have had bypass surgery, heart attacks even heart failure.
Long-time Tai Chi instructor Jay Dunbar said he is not surprised by the findings.
"[I'm] not at all surprised. Actually, I think it's a long time coming," he said.
Experts do not know what it is about Tai Chi that seems to work wonders for some people, but Ruth Inman has one theory.
"By understanding and controlling your mind better, I think you have a better chance of staying healthy," Inman said.
Many people also said it is a great workout.
"A lot of people are very surprised when they do Tai Chi for the first time," Dunbar said. "The movements are so slow and careful that they sweat after they do a workout or their muscles are sore the next day."
Richard Ruth said he does not care how or why Tai Chi works, but if it helps him relax and eases the arthritis pain in his knees then all the better.
"For me, that's definitely the case," he said. "It's relaxing. It feels good to do it."
Researchers also noted that healthy people reported respiratory and cardiovascular benefits from Tai Chi.