Tai chi requires all the major muscle groups and joints to complete the slow, gentle movements. Tai chi has been shown to improve balance, agility, strength, flexibility, stamina, muscle tone, and coordination.
The mediation component of tai chi can help to calm the mind, improve concentration, reduce anxiety, and lower blood pressure and heart rate.
Finally, the deep breathing component of tai chi stretches the muscles involved in breathing, and releases tension. In addition, it can help to increase blood circulation to the brain, which may help increase mental alertness.
So, how will children benefit from tai chi?
- Since tai chi is low impact with gentle motions it is easily adapted for all types of children including those with physical disabilities. Many of the movements can be performed in a seated position. The movement patterns can be adapted so that all can participate at their own level.
- Children with sensory processing difficulties will be challenged to grade their movements and maintain focus on the activity.
- Children who have ADHD can benefit also from the grading of movements, the concentration of deep breathing and the meditation component to calm the mind.
- Children who have motor planning deficits can work on following the motions at a slow and controlled pace.
- Anxious children will benefit from the stress reduction effects of tai chi.
To summarize, adding tai chi to your OT/PT toolbox will benefit many children.
Source: Tai chi | University of Maryland Medical Center http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/treatment/tai-chi#ixzz3Dkrt9M9m
University of Maryland Medical Center
Tai Chi for Children: This excellent resource includes a delightfully illustrated story for children with all abilities: It describes the history of Tai Chi and some basic principles and movement patterns (from Tai Chi Fundamentals®) in a way that children can understand. It could be read to teens or adults with intellectual or other challenges as well. This story book is for every parent, teacher, child, therapist, physician, grandmother, or person who wants to learn more about Tai Chi or may want to inspire a child to try this form of physical activity. Downoad the book at http://yourtherapysource.com/taichi.html