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Can Taoist Tai Chi help reduce health costs?


Did you know that at least 43 percent of adult Australians are not doing enough regular physical activity to benefit their health? Moreover, physical inactivity is the second biggest cause of ill health in Australia, after tobacco, according to one government study. It found that physical inactivity was associated with stroke, colorectal cancer, breast cancer, hypertension, heart disease, non-insulin dependent diabetes, falls and depression.

This burden of ill health not only causes suffering but has other costs: the annual direct health care cost attributable to physical inactivity is around $377 million per year. Governments are now recognising this challenge and are investing in programs to encourage physical activity.
These facts highlight the benefits that the practice of Taoist Tai Chi can bring not only to individuals, but to the community at large, in terms of reduced health costs and a healthier population.

Taoist Tai Chi is a unique physical activity that exercises both body and mind and which is focused totally on health. From the many stories told by our own members in Australia and around the world, we know that Taoist Tai Chi is a remarkable practice for improving health and for enhancing our sense of well-being and our outlook on life.

There is a growing medical and scientific literature documenting the benefits of Tai Chi as well. For example, a recent study in the Archives of Internal Medicine concluded:

"Tai Chi appears to have physiological and psychosocial benefits and also appears to be safe and effective in promoting balance, control, flexibility and cardiovascular fitness in older patients with chronic conditions."

As this study implies, an appealing feature of Taoist Tai Chi is its suitability for people of all ages and health conditions - you do not need to be in top shape to start. It is a "no impact" exercise so there is very little risk of jarring, sprains or other injuries. For the 43 percent or so of adults who are currently not getting enough exercise, these aspects could be very helpful for them to make the transition to a regular routine of physical activity. The friendly, non-competitive environment within the Taoist Tai Chi Society is another feature that attracts people.

The Taoist Tai Chi Society is involved in a range of exciting initiatives to make Taoist Tai Chi available in the community, ranging from classes as part of the Sports and Recreation degree course at Edith Cowan University, to regular classes for patients in the Multidisciplinary Pain Clinic at Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital. And of course we offer many other classes in many parts of Australia, including those at senior citizens centres and retirement villages. But clearly, there are many more people out there who could benefit immensely.

Sources:

A. Bauman et. al., Trends in population levels of reported physical activity in Australia, 1997, 1999 and 2000. Australian Sports Commission, 2001.

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, The burden of disease and injury in Australia, 1999.

John Stephenson et. al., The costs of illness attributable to physical inactivity in Australia: A preliminary study. Report prepared for the Commonwealth Department of Health and the Australian Sports Commission, 2000.

Chenchen Wang et. al., "The effect of Tai Chi on health outcomes in patients with chronic conditions", Archives of Internal Medicine, vol 164, March 8, 2004, pp. 493-501.