When you think of exercise, you think of it as a commitment. There’s a lot involved, such as setting a time for it, eating around it, and being properly dressed for it. There are minimum requirements for doing exercise. You have to buy the right socks and sneakers if you’re going to run. You have to buy the right equipment if you bench press your weight. The demands for exercising can be heavy, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
Exercise is not just about preparing and doing high-impact, sweat-inducing movements with the right gear. It’s about simply moving your body in small ways. When you take small movements, you improve every part of your body from your brain to your joints, to your internal organs. Just implementing small movements in your routine can upgrade your physical and mental health.
Small movements can be done in the comfort of your home without changing into gym clothes and encountering all the other hassles of a sweaty workout. You can stretch. You can walk around the house or the neighborhood, or you can do my favorite activity – Tai Chi.
You can practice about 15 to 20 minutes of Tai Chi each day. You don’t need a uniform, special shoes or socks to do Tai Chi. You don’t even need to have the full hour. You just need your body to move, no matter how small the movements.
Remember, you want your body to move externally and internally whether intentionally or not.
You move your body externally by moving your muscles and bones. You move your body internally by moving within and between your internal organs. You do this to avoid atrophy.
You have several hundred muscles in your body. About 40% of your weight is muscle. By just taking small movements, you strengthen your muscles, which improves your stability, coordination, and balance. In addition, the small movements of Tai Chi build more durable, denser bones.
Tai Chi is about awareness. You’re compelled to pay attention to each and every movement. All of your muscles are activated in the Tai Chi movements. Your internal adventure begins inside your mind and body.
By being aware of how you move, you increase the chances of being in greater balance and coordination. Tai Chi encourages flexibility and range of motion, which boosts your joint, flexibility, and function. It encourages you to stay sharp in your mind.
Tai Chi is often described as walking meditation.
By simply walking, you can “regrow” the structures of your brain linked to cognitive decline. In older adults, you can also improve your heart health, and it also gets your lungs going at a comfortable pace. Most of us walk to keep our muscles strong – externally. But walking does wonders to your mind too.
Exercising internally requires a very special small movement. This movement is circular and all Tai Chi movements are circular. Your body constantly rotates, turns and twists in circles.
Every part of your body moves in this manner in a variety of different ways – from your fingers, wrists, elbows, torso, all the way down to your ankles. These slow and gentle movements pull on and release structural tension from all over – from the soft tissues of your muscles, tendons and ligaments to the bones, joints and spine. This happens externally.
There’s also a movement inside and between your internal organs and related structures. The slow and deep movement within your abdominal cavity comes from the pull and release of your center. Therefore, the organs are involved as you draw the internal circle from your center. When you move circularly, you improve each and every muscle use. You increase your range of motion in the joints, and you give your body (and organs) a good workout.
These circular movements don’t have to be big. You can stay small. Let’s do some circular motions in Tai Chi.
1. Start by simply standing.
2. Shift your weight from your left foot to your right foot. As you shift your weight to the left foot, you turn your body left.
3. As you shift the weight to the right foot, you turn your body to the right.
4. Shift the weight, turn left. Shift the weight to the right, turn right. Shift and turn. Slowly develop a nice rhythm. Find the circle in your movement.
5. Bring your hands up and draw circles. As you shift the weight to the right, draw the circle to the right. As you shift the weight to the left, draw the circle to the left.
You can now see the circles forming. Get your fingers involved, rotate and twirl your fingers around making circles. Get your wrists involved by rotating, turning, and twisting each wrist, making circles.
This is Tai Chi, and Tai Chi’s turns, twists, and circular motions of the arms and legs provide full articulation of the joints.
What if you can prevent muscle pain and arthritis with Tai Chi?
What if you can improve your motor coordination and increase your blood circulation?
What if you can increase your potential for moving in a greater range of motion so much so that you can massage your internal organs by using circular motions of Tai Chi?