Wellness


What Are The Health Benefits Of Freedom Chi Internal Systems?

 

The internal systems of the Freedom Chi program nourish the body, mind, and spirit with regular practice.   As a physical exercise, they strengthen the legs and improve balance.   Posture and flexibility in the joints are improved, so you can stand and move with less effort.   The slow shifting of weight from leg to leg helps the circulation of blood through the body, improving heart health.   The quality of relaxation in these arts, as you move through the sequence of postures, helps to regulate the flow of your internal energy, your chi, through your whole body, nourishing the health of your internal organs.

As you learn to relax physically, you learn to relax your thoughts and emotions, relieving the stresses of everyday life.   Stress relief is a common benefit that brings many people to these ancient arts.

Placing the focus of your awareness at the center of the body makes the internal arts a moving meditation, a way to be centered and grounded throughout your day.

 

Medical Research

Since most of the medical benefits research has been done on the internal martial art of  “Tai Chi”, the following list deals primarily with the research results of that system.    As you will note, there are many benefits associated with Tai Chi, but to get those benefits you must be doing the correct postures and movements.

All of the internal systems utilize the same core principles of living in harmony with nature by utilizing a series of movements and techniques designed to teach us how to channel the powers of nature (energy), from both within ourselves and around us.    

 

The ancient internal martial art of Tai Chi is often described as meditation in motion, but it might well be called medication in motion.  

Harvard Health Publication, May 2009

“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,” says Peter M. Wayne, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and director of  the Tai Chi and Mind-Body Research Program at Harvard Medical School’s Osher  Research Center.   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.

Even as the list of internal martial arts ( particularly Tai Chi and Chi Kung)  benefits constantly grows, they should not be regarded as a magic pill.  

Think of these ancient art systems as complements to Western medicine, and not replacements for it.

 

A List Of Some Of the Documented Benefits:

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Arthritis

Balance

Breast Cancer

Diabetes

Flexibility

Headaches

Heart Disease

Hypertension

Joint Pain and Stiffness

Low Back Pain

Low Bone Density

Muscle Strength

Parkinson’s Disease

Shingles

Sleep Problems

Stroke

 

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD):

 

Adolescents, in a study by the University of Miami School of Medicine, that engaged in Tai Chi sessions twice a week for 5 weeks found it to be an effective therapy in reducing the major and most difficult symptoms in ADHD children;  anxiety and hyperactivity.  The adolescent participants were perceived by their teachers as being less anxious, emotional and hyperactive following  Tai Chi.  

Tai Chi was also found to be an attractive alternative treatment for the simultaneous presence of two chronic conditions in a patient; such as depression and anxiety, and the potential side effects of a multidrug therapy.  

Especially appealing was the documented effects of Tai Chi on reducing anxiety and hyperactivity with little or no side effects.

CLICK HERE to see U.S. National Library of Medicine/National Institutes of Health publication.

 

Arthritis

 

In a 40-person study at Tufts University, presented in October 2008 at a meeting of the American College of Rheumatology, an hour of Tai Chi twice a week for 12 weeks reduced pain and improved mood and physical functioning more than standard stretching exercises in people with severe knee osteoarthritis.

According to a Korean study published in December 2008 in Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, eight weeks of tai chi classes followed by eight weeks of home practice significantly improved flexibility and slowed the disease process in patients with ankylosing spondylitis, a painful and debilitating inflammatory form of arthritis that affects the spine.

CLICK HERE to see U.S. National Library of Medicine/National Institutes of Health publication.

 

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.

CLICK HERE to see U.S. National Library of Medicine/National Institutes of Health publication.

 

Breast Cancer

 

Tai Chi has shown potential for improving quality of life and functional capacity (the physical ability to carry out normal daily activities, such as work or exercise) in women suffering from breast cancer or the side effects of breast cancer treatment.

For example, a 2008 study at the University of Rochester, published in Medicine and Sport Science, found that quality of life and functional capacity (including aerobic capacity, muscular strength, and flexibility) improved in women with breast cancer who did 12 weeks of tai chi, while declining in a control group that received only supportive therapy.

 

Diabetes

 

A Medicine and Sports Science study investigating the effects of Tai Chi exercise on the levels of blood glucose, insulin and insulin receptors of patients showed benefits on the health status of patients with type 2 diabetes.

 

CLICK HERE to see U.S. National Library of Medicine/National Institutes of Health publication.

 

Flexibility

 

Women in the 2006 Stanford study significantly boosted upper- and lower-body flexibility as well as strength.

 

Headaches

 

An Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine documented study showed Tai Chi practice to be effective in both reducing headache impact and improving perceptions of some aspects of physical and mental health.

CLICK HERE to see U.S. National Library of Medicine/National Institutes of Health publication.

 

Heart Disease

 

A study at National Taiwan University found that a year of  Tai Chi significantly boosted exercise capacity, lowered blood pressure, and improved levels of cholesterol, triglycerides, insulin, and C-reactive protein in people at high risk for heart disease.   The study, which was published in the September 2008 Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, found no improvement in a control group that did not practice Tai Chi.

CLICK HERE to see U.S. National Library of Medicine/National Institutes of Health publication.

 

Hypertension

 

In a review of 26 studies in English or Chinese published in Preventive Cardiology (Spring 2008), Dr. Yeh reported that in 85% of trials, Tai Chi lowered blood pressure — with improvements ranging from 3 to 32 mm Hg in systolic pressure and from 2 to 18 mm Hg in diastolic pressure.

CLICK HERE to see U.S. National Library of Medicine/National Institutes of Health publication.

 

Joint Pain and Stiffness

 

People with osteoarthritis assigned to a Tai Chi group during a 3-month study reported less joint pain and stiffness than when they started. They also had less pain and stiffness than patients in a control group.

CLICK HERE to see U.S. National Library of Medicine/National Institutes of Health publication.

 

Low Back Pain

 

A pragmatic randomized controlled trial of Tai Chi exercise for people with low back pain showed that a 10-week program improved pain and disability outcomes and can be considered a safe and effective intervention for those experiencing long-term back pain symptoms.

CLICK HERE to see U.S. National Library of Medicine/National Institutes of Health publication.

 

Low Bone Density

 

A review of six controlled studies by Dr. Wayne and other Harvard researchers indicates that Tai Chi may be a safe and effective way to maintain bone density in postmenopausal women. A controlled study of  Tai Chi in women with osteopenia (diminished bone density not as severe as osteoporosis) is underway at the Osher Research Center and Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

CLICK HERE to see U.S. National Library of Medicine/National Institutes of Health publication.

 

Muscle Strength

 

In a 2006 study published in Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine,  Stanford University researchers reported benefits of tai chi in 39 women and men, average age 66, with below-average fitness and at least one cardiovascular risk factor.

After taking 36 tai chi classes in 12 weeks, they showed improvement in both lower-body strength (measured by the number of times they could rise from a chair in 30 seconds) and upper-body strength (measured by their ability to do arm curls).

In a Japanese study using the same strength measures, 113 older adults were assigned to different 12-week exercise programs, including tai chi, brisk walking, and resistance training.   People who did Tai Chi improved more than 30% in lower-body strength and 25% in arm strength — almost as much as those who participated in resistance training, and more than those assigned to brisk walking.

“Although you aren’t working with weights or resistance bands, the unsupported arm exercise involved in Tai Chi strengthens your upper body,” says internist Dr. Gloria Yeh, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School. “Tai Chi strengthens both the lower and upper extremities and also the core muscles of the back and abdomen.”

CLICK HERE to see U.S. National Library of Medicine/National Institutes of Health publication.

 

Parkinson’s Disease

 

A pilot study from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, published in Gait and Posture (October 2008), found that people with mild to moderately severe Parkinson’s disease showed improved balance, walking ability, and overall well-being after 20 tai chi sessions.

 

Shingles

 

Increased immunity to shingles. Characterized by a painful, blistering skin rash, shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. In a shingles study,  researchers found that Tai Chi prompted an immune response to the varicella-zoster virus similar to that prompted by the varicella vaccine.   When combined with the vaccine, tai chi helped create even greater levels of immunity — double those of the control group.

CLICK HERE to see U.S. National Library of Medicine/National Institutes of Health publication.

 

Sleep Problems

 

In a University of California, Los Angeles,  study of 112 healthy older adults with moderate sleep complaints, 16 weeks of tai chi improved the quality and duration of sleep significantly more than standard sleep education. The study was published in the July 2008 issue of the journal Sleep.

In another study at the National Institute of Health, they found that the benefits of Tai Chi were similar to those gained through drugs or cognitive behavioral therapy.

CLICK HERE to see U.S. National Library of Medicine/National Institutes of Health publication.

 

Stroke

 

In 136 patients who’d had a stroke at least six months earlier, 12 weeks of Tai Chi improved standing balance more than a general exercise program that entailed breathing, stretching, and mobilizing muscles and joints involved in sitting and walking. Findings were published in the January 2009 issue of Neurore habilitation and Neural Repair.

CLICK HERE to see U.S. National Library of Medicine/National Institutes of Health publication.

 

 Sources:

 

Harvard Health Publications at Harvard Medical School, May 2009; http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-health-benefits-of-tai-chi

Tai Chi For Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder;  University of Miami School of Medicine;  Dr. Tiffany M. Field;

http://worldtaichiday.org/images/ADHD-MIAMIMEDICINERESEARCH.pdf

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine: “Tai Chi for Health Purposes,” “Energy Medicine: An Overview.”

American Federation for Aging Research: “Archived Research: On the benefits of  Tai Chi.”

Komagata, S. Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy, 2003. National Qigong Association: “What is Qigong?”

Sancier, K. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 2004.