Diet and exercise are the cornerstones of diabetes management. In other words, people with diabetes who exercise regularly have better control over their blood glucose levels. They may also have fewer complications such as heart disease and stroke.
However, many people don’t keep up with their regular exercise. Either they don’t enjoy it, or they have a problem finding time to exercise. In this case, tai chi offers a major advantage: It’s enjoyable, in fact to many, it’s almost addictive. After getting over the initial learning phase (about three to six months) and becoming familiar with the rhythm and feel of tai chi, most people continue exercising. You can practice tai chi almost anywhere.
How does Tai Chi help?
Stress is often a factor that stands in the way of controlling diabetes. Tai chi encourages mental relaxation and reduces stress. Therefore, it follows that Tai Chi can help improve the control of diabetes. The major problems of diabetes are complications such as heart disease, visual impairment, and stroke. Tai Chi helps build strength, balance and flexibility. It does this through slow, fluid movements combined with mental imagery and deep breathing. Studies have shown tai chi to have improve cardio-respiratory fitness, muscle strength, balance and circulation. They also show a decrease in tension and anxiety.This minimises the complications of diabetes. In addition, diabetes causes peripheral neuropathy, a condition which damages the nerves in the feet. In this way, the condition affects stability in walking. Tai chi has proven to be effective in helping balance and mobility.
Tai chi enhances concentration and clarity of the mind. It also improves relaxation and uplifts the mood. It is one of the most effective mind-body exercises. Because participants are aware of the intrinsic energy, they have a greater sense of self-control and empowerment.
The role of Qi
The notion of qi is found in most eastern cultures. Chinese traditional medicine is based on this concept. Qi is the life energy inside a person. Tai Chi is designed to cultivate and enhance qi. Because it encourages gentle and slow movements, tai chi helps to strengthen the meridians. Meridians are energy channels along which qi travels. The rhythmic movement of the muscle and joints pump energy through the whole body. According to traditional Chinese medicine, diabetes is a deficiency of moisture and essence (yin) of the lung, spleen and kidney meridians. Enhancing qi in the appropriate meridians will therefore improve diabetes.
At Movement In Mind, our wellbeing programme includes Tai Chi for Diabetes. The set was developed by the Tai Chi for Health Institute. Shirley is one of Dr Paul Lam’s Instructors, trained to deliver the sessions in a safe and effective way.
Tai Chi for Diabetes
This programme is designed to help improve control of diabetes. By gently increasing physical activity. cellular uptake of glucose and relaxation, it also enhances qi (life energy). According to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) this will help control diabetes. TCM considers diabetes to be a deficiency of moisture and essence (yin) of the lung, spleen and kidney meridians. Therefore, enhancing qi in the appropriate meridians will improve diabetes. Tai chi focuses on building strength, balance and flexibility. It uses slow, fluid movements combined with mental imagery and deep breathing. The rhythmic movement of the muscle and joints pump energy through the whole body. This can help to alleviate the associating complications such as heart disease, visual impairment, and stroke. Scientific studies have shown tai chi to have beneficial effects on cardio-respiratory fitness, muscular strength, balance, peripheral circulation, reduced tension and anxiety. In turn, this helps to minimise the complications of diabetes.