Facebook

Mayo Clinic: Yoga and Tai Chi as Pathways to Better Health

ROCHESTER Minn., Oct 23, 2009 -- For an investment of 20 minutes each morning, the payback is reduced stress, a sense of calm and peace, improved strength, limberness, better immune function and lower blood pressure.

It's not too good to be true. The investment is practicing yoga or tai chi, which were developed and revised over many centuries. The October issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter includes an in-depth Special Report on Yoga and Tai Chi, covering health benefits, differences between yoga and tai chi, tips for learning postures and poses, simple stretches, how breathing enhances energy, and resources to learn more.

An important advantage of yoga and tai chi is that they combine key elements of exercise -- aerobic, strength training, core stability, flexibility and balance -- into unified approaches. Certain benefits, particularly stress reduction, can be seen in as little as one day. People report better sleep and improvements in digestive health within the first few days. Better digestive health can mean better bowel function and decreased constipation. Practiced regularly, yoga and tai chi may help reverse some effects of aging, such as restricted and narrowed movements.

After 10 to 12 weeks of regular sessions, practitioners often notice significant health benefits in other areas. For example, a study of yoga and people who experience migraines found that those doing yoga had less frequent and less intense headaches than did those taking medication.

In addition, those who practiced yoga saw improvements in anxiety and depression. Yoga and tai chi can improve bone density and cardiovascular health and decrease blood pressure.

The best way to learn yoga or tai chi is by taking a class or working with a qualified instructor. These classes, which teach the art of breathing, meditation and posing, are offered at many health clubs and senior centers and through community education.

Americans Spent $4.1 Billion a Year on Yoga, Tai Chi and Qigong

On July 30, 2009, National Institutes of Health (NIH) released a survey that shows Americans spent nearly $34 billion on out-of-pocket on complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) over the 12 months before the survey conducted in 2007. Among the $34 billion, $4.1 billion were spent on Yoga, Tai Chi and/or Qigong classes.

According to this survey - the 2007 National Health Interview Survey - CAM accounts for approximately 1.5 percent of total health care expenditures ($2.2 trillion²) and 11.2 percent of total out-of-pocket expenditures (conventional out-of-pocket: $286.6 billion² and CAM out-of-pocket: $33.9 billion¹) on health care in the United States.

Of the $33.9 billion spent on CAM out-of-pocket, an estimated $22.0 billion was spent on self-care costs—CAM products, classes, and materials—with the majority going to the purchase of nonvitamin, nonmineral, natural products ($14.8 billion) such as fish oil, glucosamine and Echinacea. U.S. adults also spent approximately $11.9 billion on an estimated 354.2 million visits to CAM practitioners such as acupuncturists, chiropractors, massage therapists, etc.

To put these figures in context, the $14.8 billion spent on nonvitamin, nonmineral, natural products is equivalent to approximately one-third of total out-of-pocket spending on prescription drugs, and the $11.9 billion spent on CAM practitioner visits is equivalent to approximately one-quarter of total out-of-pocket spending on physician visits.

These data indicate that the U.S. public makes millions of visits to CAM providers each year and spends billions of dollars for these services, as well as for self-care forms of CAM," said Richard L. Nahin, Ph.D., MPH, lead author of the cost of complementary and alternative medicine analysis in this survey. "While these expenditures represent just a small fraction of total health care spending in the United States, they constitute a substantial part of out-of-pocket health care costs."

 
 
Formerly the Tai Chi for Consumer Health Information Center funded by The National Library of Medicine (NLM)
Copyright ©2005 -2010 American Tai Chi and Qigong Association(ATCQA) | Designed by