First it was about Taoist’s enlightenment, meditation and self-defense in the 13th century, then it was seen as an exercise for the old and those who got nothing else to do. Now, it might be the easy exercise that one can practice to effectively curb diabetes and thus saving and prolonging one’s life.

Tai Chi, better known as Tai Ji Quan (太极拳) was founded by Master Zhang San Feng (张三丰), one of my most admired heros in Chinese history. Since then,  it has more than 100 possible movements and positions and is now enjoyed by people all over the world.  Many Community Clubs (CC) in Singapore have regular Taiji or Qigong classes and there are also many free video online. Unlike many exercises, this dance-like exercise can be done by people of all ages as it is slow (some movements are fast paced), gentle, graceful self-paced kind of exercise and does not required any equipment. It can be done at any permissible open space with clean air.

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It is easy yet not that easy as it combines movements with meditation to align the body and the mind. Those who had been practicing it can attest to its benefits of reducing stress; increase agility, flexibility, energy, stamina as well as improve muscular strength. Overall, it is a great feeling and makes one sleeps well.

 The British Journal of Sports Medicine has just reported that studies by researchers in Taiwan and Australia indicated that Tai Chi exercises can help people control type-2 diabetes, the disease suffered by some 250millions people worldwide and which can lead to blindness, kidney failure, high blood pressure and heart disease.

 Of the group of 30 diabetics involved in the Taiwanese study, at the end of the 12 weeks (3hours per week) program in which they learned 37 Tai Chi movements, their blood sugar level had dropped. The levels of glycated haemoglobin  (excess sugar carried by red blood cells) fell significantly. Thus, the researchers suggested that Tai Chi may prompt a fall in blood glucose levels, or improve blood glucose metabolism, which in turn sparks a drop in the inflammatory response

 In Australia, 11 diabetic patients were put to a 12 week sessions of Tai Chi and Qigong 气功(Chinese Yoga) for 60 to 90 minutes three times a week. The result was they have less craving for food, slept better, experienced less pain but more energy, lost weight averaging 3kg, waist line reduced by almost 3cm but most importantly, their insulin resistance improved, blood sugar level dropped and blood pressure dropped significantly.

 It was explained that “the relaxation element of Tai Chi may help to reduce stress levels, preventing the release of adrenalin which can lead to insulin resistance and high blood glucose levels”.

 Long live the tradition of Tai Chi which promotes maintaining optimum functioning of the body’s self-regulating systems to restore the body to its natural state of health through the cultivation of inner strength and calming the mind.