What Is Tai Chi And How Might It Improve Health?

Daniel Monti, M.D., JeffersonABCNEWS.com

Question: What is tai chi, how might it improve health, and are there particular medical conditions that tai chi might be good for?

Answer: Tai chi refers to a set of exercises centered around a series of postures and movements along with controlled breathing. It is derived from traditional Chinese medicine, so the exercises are intended to balance chi -- which refers to the body's energy or life force. Tai chi is sometimes referred to as moving meditation. It is gentle and most people tolerate it well. There is some data to suggest a number of health benefits such as lowered blood pressure and heart rate -- probably because of stress reduction. It is unclear what exactly are the underlying mechanisms of tai chi, however, many report an improved sense of wellbeing from doing it.