Previous Next

Photo: wikicommmons

One more proven health benefit of studying the “supreme ultimate boxing.”

AS A STUDENT OF Tai Chi Chuan [literally translated "the supreme ultimate boxing], I was stoked to hear about this study which came out last month from the University of Florida. It showed, among other things, that people with type 2 diabetes were able to lower their blood sugar over a period of six months by regularly practicing Tai Chi.

Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese martial art. There are many forms, but the root concept is the same: you focus on a series of postures and movements that simulates defending against various attacks. It’s basically an exercise in flow. Everything is slowed down to the point where the motions become a form of moving meditation, a way to concentrate on your breathing and harmonize mind and body.

Over the years I’ve practiced a couple different forms, and each time am amazed at how the ‘effects’ of an hour long session can last for the rest of the day or night. You have more energy, less stress, and you just move better. You pay attention to how you stand up, sit down, walk across a room. You have higher mental clarity.

I’ve also found that doing a little bit of Tai Chi before paddling, surfing or snowboarding helps me perform better. Some of the movements within the forms, such as ‘Needle at Sea-Bottom’, are essentially board-riding stances. And others, such as ‘Wave Hands Like Clouds’ teaches you how to initiate turns using your whole body.

I love it when science substantiates what people intuit for themselves. Tai Chi is healing. It’s something you should consider starting now, or picking back up if you’ve studied before. The key, in my opinion, is having a good teacher. Unfortunately I couldn’t find any solid ‘national’ resources. Please search your local area for Tai Chi instructors. Any other online resources out there? Please let us know in the comments, and tell us what health (or other) benefits you’ve experienced through Tai Chi.

Health + Lifestyle


About The Author

David Miller

David Miller is Senior Editor of Matador (winner of 2010 and 2011 Lowell Thomas awards for travel journalism) and Director of Curricula at MatadorU. Follow him @dahveed_miller.

  • Julie

    I had no idea you do tai chi. Awesome.
    I first took tai chi lessons when I lived in China… and subsequently dropped them when the teacher told me I was the worst student he’d ever had.
    That being said, I do believe in all these claims about its benefits. ;0

  • Hal Amen

    Took a semester in college and loved it. Subsequently forgot all the motions. Damn.

  • Kate

    Haven’t tried Tai Chi in a long time. Might be time to get back at it.

  • Nomadic Matt

    As someone who has done tai chi, i can totally see this.

  • Jamie Stewart

    I practive both Tai-Chi and meditation on my spare time. It is really good for general health.;~*

Yes, I face limitations when I travel. But who doesn’t?
From herbs to hypnosis: how to kick your cigarette habit naturally.
Try these natural homemade remedies from around the globe before you dish out dollars for...
Feel globally connected without leaving your chair.
Candice Walsh explains how to deal with Seasonal Affective Disorder.
If we don't open ourselves up, how can we expect to grow?
Prawns don't just look shifty--they can follow you home.
Man's first responsibility is to be happy. The second is to make everyone else happy.