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Body Movement

What is body movement?

Nonaerobic movement with controlled breathing may be done to help reduce stress and anxiety. Both of these have been linked to disease and illness. Two of the most well-known, nonaerobic movement practices used within Eastern medicine are tai chi and yoga.

Tai chi

Tai chi is an ancient form of martial art. It's based on the Chinese belief system of the health and spiritual benefits of practicing slow, graceful but precise movements coupled with rhythmic breathing. Tai chi is sometimes called moving meditation. People move their bodies in specific poses and ways, slowly, gently, and with awareness, while breathing deeply. It is well-suited for older adults or those with balance problems.

Tai chi may help:

  • Reduce blood pressure

  • Increase stamina, muscle tone, and flexibility

  • Improve posture, balance, muscle mass, and strength, particularly in older adults

  • Improve thinking ability in older adults

Yoga

Yoga is an ancient posturing and breathing method from India. It also uses a series and specific set of slow movements and poses, meditation, and breathing exercises to reach a state of relaxation. Hatha yoga is common in the U.S. and Europe. It uses postures (asanas) and breathing exercises (pranayama). Some of the other major styles of hatha yoga include Iyengar, Ashtanga, Vini, Kundalini, and Bikram yoga.

Yoga may help:

  • Reduce stress

  • Reduce pain linked to some long-term (chronic) illnesses

  • Reduce insomnia

  • Improve stamina

  • Enhance quality of life 

If you have a major health issue, check with your healthcare provider before starting a new exercise program. Before you begin a body movement program, it's also important to check the instructor’s background and make certain they are experienced teachers. Tai chi and yoga instructors don’t have to be licensed, and the practices are not regulated by the federal government or individual states. Body movement practice injuries are rare, but when they do occur, they most often result in strains and sprains. People older than 65 may need to be cautious since yoga-related injuries are higher in this age group. In particular, people with osteoporosis should check with their conventional healthcare provider before starting a body movement class. This is because you may need to make some modifications to the program based on your individual needs and risk factors . Also talk with all of your healthcare providers about the health approaches you are using. This will give them a full picture of your health. And it will help make sure of safe, coordinated care.

Online Medical Reviewer: Bianca Garilli MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Heather M Trevino BSN RNC
Online Medical Reviewer: Marianne Fraser MSN RN
Date Last Reviewed: 4/1/2023
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