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Science Says This Is Your Perfect Anti-Aging Workout
Inflammation is an integral part of the body's attempt to heal an injury. But when stress or poor sleep ramps up inflammation, it can raise your risk of heart trouble, stroke, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, and even cancer. Tai chi can tame that response, especially if you make it part of your daily activity. In a study published in Biological Psychiatry, researchers found that the meditative movements of tai chi reversed the activation of inflammatory signaling pathways, reducing inflammation in the 55-and-older volunteers. (Here are 3 signs you have chronic inflammation.)
The stats are unnerving: According to the CDC, almost 50% of adults 65 and older have arthritis; the projection is that by 2030, nearly 67 million Americans ages 18 and older are projected to have the condition. Osteoarthritis in the knee—where the joint cartilage breaks down—is one of the most common types. While physical therapy can help, researchers have found that adding tai chi to your fitness routine seems to ease knee pain. A study at Tufts University revealed that people who performed classical Yang-style tai chi twice a week for 2 weeks used less pain medication compared with a group that did physical therapy twice a week. Plus, the tai chi group reported a mood boost from the practice. (For best results, try it coupled with other all-natural solutions for knee pain.)
Last year, researchers reported that volunteers who engaged in tai chi boasted a significantly higher number of CD 34+ cells than the group who didn't exercise at all. That's key because CD 34+ cells are responsible for new cell growth and renewal.
Add a little tai chi into your life with these simple moves from Tucson-based Joe Pinella, who has been practicing and teaching tai chi and qigong for 50+ years:
This exercise is great for opening the sternum, says Pinella, helping with slumped posture from sitting and working on the computer. It also allows you to take in more oxygen and energy.
Stand with feet parallel, a little closer than shoulder-width, arms at sides, shoulders relaxed. Find your balance. Take a deep abdominal breath in and raise straight arms, palms up, to front until they are overhead. Palms should now be facing each other. Pause briefly. Exhale and bring your arms down to side straight out from shoulders, palms up. Pause briefly. Turn palms to front. Take reverse breath, suck in belly, move straight arms backward from chest. Exhale gently and bring arms back to side, palms facing body. Repeat 9 times.
This move helps strengthen the diaphragm and build up lung power, explains Pinella. "It also stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which is deeply relaxing," he adds.
Stand with feet parallel, arms at sides. Take reverse breath, suck in belly and roll shoulders back to lift arms from sides. Turn palms face up. Bring arms up overhead so palms are facing but not touching. Exhale and turn palms outward to bring arms back down to sides. As you take each reverse breath in, imagine that you are drawing energy from the earth through your feet all the way up to the tips of your fingers.
This pose is one which the Chinese say lets energy flow throughout the whole body, explains Pinella. "Most of my students say it's their favorite pose. Done correctly it is also a great core workout. The controlled shifting of the weight helps with balance and strengthens the legs, especially the inner thighs."
Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulder-width. Relax your body. Breathe normally. Bring right hand up and look at palm. Shift weight over right knee, which will be slightly bent. Turn to right from waist only. Right hand will automatically move to right. While still in that position, let right hand gently float down and bring left hand up and look at palm. Slowly shift weight over left knee. Turn to left from waist. Again, left hand should automatically turn as you turn from waist. Continue back and forth motion. Remember, shift first, then turn from waist. You will always be looking at one palm. To end pose, come back to neutral stance, bring arms down and release the energy.
Video: 24 Ways To Hack Your Biological Age From Ancient Wisdom & Modern Science | Ben Greenfield
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