A picture of a group of seniors doing tai chi

Top 10 Benefits of Tai Chi for Seniors

Tai Chi for Seniors

I often talk about physical fitness and the importance of doing healthy activities as we age. My focus has been on how you can use yoga, but what about other practices? There are options other than yoga that use different movements and still have the same benefits, sometimes even more. One of those activities is tai chi. Tai chi is a great way for seniors to stay in good health for more than one reason. 

What Is Tai Chi?

Before we dive into all the wonderful benefits of tai chi, we should probably talk about exactly what it is. Tai chi is an ancient practice that was created in China and historically was a part of Marital Arts training. Before you’re deterred by the words “Martial Arts training,” read on because it is very accessible to everyone. 

Like yoga, tai chi is a form of self-paced physical activity that helps you to engage your mind and body. It has been referred to by some as meditation in motion because while performing it, you are doing a series of slow thought-out gentle exercises and postures that flow almost like a slow interpretive dance. As you move through these sequences of poses, you are helping to align your whole being.

Benefits of Tai Chi for Seniors

Now that we know what tai chi is, let’s talk about the benefits of tai chi for seniors. There are a lot of them, but here are 10 that I think are the most important.

1. Improves Balance

Having good balance is extremely important as we age — good balance is essential in preventing falls that can lead to serious injuries. Fortunately, practicing tai chi is a great way to improve your balance. The slow movements in the activity mean that you focus on your body’s movements more than you normally would. This means that you become more in touch with how your body moves and, at some points, must do exercises that focus on balance. In fact, a meta-analysis published in the Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine found that three months of practicing tai chi resulted in improved balance. 

2. Strengthens Muscles

Any physical activity will help you to strengthen your muscles, and tai chi is no exception. Through the slow, thoughtful motions used for the exercises, you are using what is known as more static motion rather than dynamic. Static motion is great because it helps build muscle through your full range of motion. A systematic review published in BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine found that “tai chi training seems to moderately improve physical fitness when evaluated by tests used in health-related fitness or competitive sports.”

3. Increases Flexibility

The same study mentioned above found some other evidence that indicated that tai chi is a great help in improving flexibility in older adults. It has been found that tai chi helps seniors with flexibility in the thoracolumbar spine — that’s the part of the spine between your mid-back and lower back. The slow movement of tai chi is also a safe alternative to other physical activities that improve flexibility.

4. Improves Cognition

A sharp brain in your later years is important because it is key to fighting diseases like Alzheimer’s. Since tai chi focuses on connecting your mind and body, it can be pivotal to improving your brain function and cognition. Another meta-analysis published in the Journal of Sport and Health Science concluded that tai chi helps to improve memory in seniors. 

5. Increases Mobility

Performing thoughtful controlled movements through tai chi can increase mobility. This links back to tai chi’s effects on strengthening muscles and improving flexibility. When doing both, you create more space in your body and make it easier to do different movements. Through regular tai chi practice, many seniors have improved their ability to do certain tasks. 

6. Reduces Falls

As I just mentioned above, flexibility and strength help to improve mobility. And by improving your mobility, you are now decreasing your fall risk. In fact, this study found that when tai chi was performed by seniors who were at risk of falling, it reduced the rate of falls by approximately 43%. 

7. Decreases Stroke Risk Factors

If you were to do tai chi for one reason and one reason alone, this is it right here. Stroke risk factors include high blood pressure, body mass, and blood sugar. Tai chi has been proven to reduce all these stroke risk factors. This helps to make seniors who practice tai chi less likely to have a stroke. The study this information was published in can be found here.

8. Improves Sleep

Mind-body practices and physical activity are known to help improve sleep in almost everyone. So once again, it is no surprise that tai chi has improved seniors' sleep. A review published in the International Journal of Nursing Studies found that after practicing tai chi, older adults reported better-perceived sleep quality. This means that it can be a great tool in helping aid seniors with sleep problems. 

9. Helps with Cardiorespiratory Fitness

As mentioned before, tai chi can help reduce stroke factors that are directly linked to heart health. Many practitioners of tai chi have found it to help with their overall fitness, and studies have now found that it improves cardiorespiratory fitness too. This study found that tai chi helped seniors to decrease their heart rate and increase lung capacity.

10. Can Improve Pain Management

Finally, tai chi has been found to help seniors with managing chronic pain. While living with chronic pain is terrible, it has been found that physical activity can help reduce body inflammation and, in turn, pain. Tai chi has been shown to help with pain related to fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, and lower back pain. In some cases, relief from these pains was almost immediate. 


Tai chi is a great activity for seniors due to its low level of risk, many benefits, and relatively low cost to practice. If you’re looking for a new activity, look no further than tai chi. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how fun it is!