LUSK – Through the art of improving the mind, body and energy, Tai Chi teaches body fluidity with health benefits for people of all ages. And the Lusk Senior Center is offering a program in the ancient Chinese exercise regimen to local seniors.
The art form is a tool used to exercise both the body and the mind through fluid movements and different styles.
The Tai Chi for Health Institute website reports that Dr. Paul Lam, a retired family physician who has been practicing the art of Tai Chi for over 40 years, is “a world leader in the field of Tai Chi for health improvement.” Dr. Lam, originally from Australia, began practicing Tai Chi in 1974 as a way to control arthritis, but found that it improved other aspects of his life as well.
In collaboration with other medical specialists, Lam put together several health programs centered on Tai Chi in 1997. The programs through the Tai Chi for Health Institute are used to train instructors to conduct classes that benefit individuals with various health concerns.
The Institute’s website states the programs are recommended by the Center for Disease Control for arthritis and fall prevention. It also says the workshops are “accredited by (the) Arthritis Foundation of USA; American College of Sport Medicine, Australian fitness industry; American Council of Exercise; American Tai Chi Association; Florida and many other physiotherapist associations, HK rehabilitation society and the Korean Rheumatology Health Professional’s Society.”
In 2001 Dr. Lam and colleagues established a program centered on Diabetes with another program for back pain to follow in 2004. There is also “Tai Chi 4 Kidz” to teach children “concentration and coordination.”
“The public health nurse and one of her coworkers were trained to do the Tai Chi so they wanted to bring it into the community and there were some seniors that were interested,” Tammie Jensen, Lusk Senior Center Activities Director, said.
The Tai Chi programs became available at the Senior Center through coordination with Niobrara County Public Health. The Niobrara County Public Health Supervisor Melanie Pearce and Public Health Nurse Anna Foreman began teaching classes last fall in an effort to help the community.
“We wanted an outreach for chronic disease,” Pearce said. “So, the State of Wyoming injury prevention program has, they teach anybody who wants to know, actually how to do the Tai Chi for Arthritis. We went last year, and it’s almost been a year now, and learned the class and then came back and asked the Senior Center if we could teach it here.”
Pearce said the main goal is for community members to get out and get moving.
Foreman read about different research involving the exercises and found studies reporting seniors involved in Tai Chi had “considerably less falls” than those involved in other aerobics.