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02.25.21 | Fitness & Activity

The Health Benefits of Tai Chi

Tai chi is an internal Chinese martial art, practiced for defense training, health benefits and meditation. As one of the most gentle martial art forms, tai chi is a great exercise option for older adults across the health and mobility spectrum — bringing with it a slew of benefits, healthful and otherwise. Let’s take a closer look:

Tai chi

Tai chi, short for T’ai chi ch’üan or Tàijí quán (太極拳), is an ancient Chinese martial arts practice, rooted in a deep history and philosophy. (You can read more about that on CultureTrip, here.) According to MayoClinic, tai chi “is a noncompetitive, self-paced system of gentle physical exercise and stretching. Each posture flows into the next without pause, ensuring that your body is in constant motion.” The movements emphasize deep breathing, encouraging participants to slow down and get in touch with their body and feelings.

Because tai chi is low-impact, slow-motion and emphasizes the mind-body connection, it’s become a popular practice globally, attracting a broad spectrum of participants. And thanks to its wide array of health benefits, it’s since been adopted as a common practice at hospitals, community centers, older adult facilities and the like.

Health Benefits

Tai chi is often described as “meditation in motion,” but because its health benefits are so great, Harvard Women’s Health Watch jokingly calls it medication in motion.”

The low-impact exercise boasts physical health benefits such as improved lower- and upper-body strength, improved flexibility, improved balance (and possibly even decreased risk of falling), improved joint pain, enhanced immune system, enhanced quality of sleep, lowered blood pressure and healthy aerobic conditioning (where heart and lungs are trained to pump blood more efficiently, allowing more oxygen to be delivered to muscles and organs). All of the listed benefits are crucial to older adults seeking to maintain or better their health. 

In addition to its physical health benefits, the meditative aspect of tai chi brings with it an array of mental health benefits. These benefits include decreased stress, anxiety and depression; improved mood, energy and stamina and a general boost to wellness overall. 

Part of the appeal is that tai chi can be practiced independently or within a group setting, and it doesn’t require any equipment. If a low-impact, slow-motion and mindful form of exercise sounds like a good fit for you, then tai chi might just become part of your next fitness regimen routine.

Two people practice tai chi, silhouetted against a night sky and the moon
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02.16.21 | Health & Wellness

Your Daily Cup of Coffee: Helping Your Health or Harming?

Coffee is an indelible part of most people’s morning routines. If you don’t feel human before you’ve had your first cup of coffee, you’re not alone. A study conducted by the National Coffee Association found that 64% of Americans drink coffee, and a New England Journal of Medicine article “Coffee, Caffeine and Health” called coffee the most widely consumed psychoactive agent in the world. But is getting your coffee fix helping or harming your health? Let’s take a look.

Helpful Benefits of Coffee

First things first: what is “the right” amount of coffee to consume? Lucky for us die-hard coffee lovers, Harvard Health Publishing describes moderate coffee consumption as three to four cups per day. As is our unofficial motto at Sage Collective, everything is best consumed and enjoyed in moderation. 

Diane Vizthum, M.S., R.D., research nutritionist for Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine also comments: “Caffeine is the first thing that comes to mind when you think about coffee. But coffee also contains antioxidants and other active substances that may reduce internal inflammation and protect against disease.”

In fact, according to Heathline, one cup of coffee includes the following amounts of daily recommended dosages for vitamins: 11% of riboflavin (vitamin B2), 6% of pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), 3% of manganese and potassium and 2% of magnesium and niacin (vitamin B3). So if you’re a moderate coffee drinker (3-4) cups, you do the math… it’s like taking gummy vitamin supplements, right?

Coffee is also believed to lower risk of Type 2 diabetes, lower risk of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, lower risk for certain types of cancer (such as liver and colon), lower risk of stroke, help fight off gallstones and even help you live longer. 

Harmful Health Effects of Coffee

Now here’s where we talk about the other side of moderate consumption: overconsumption of coffee. Whether you exceed your daily limit of 4-5 cups, or whether you’re a novice coffee drinker who hasn’t built up a caffeine tolerance, coffee drinking could produce negative effects.

Negative effects of coffee overconsumption include increased blood pressure, headaches, nervousness, restlessness and anxiety, dizziness, heartburn, muscle tremors, pounding heart, dehydration, frequent trips to the bathroom and insomnia. Noticing a pattern? Most, if not all, of these negative side effects are directly induced by too much caffeine. 

The solution? Trade your next cup of coffee for a glass of water, or try decaf for a while. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: coffee consumption is great, but only in moderation. So drink away, all ye lovers of that good morning cuppa joe, but remember when to stop.

A clear mug of black coffee sits on a plain white surface, with coffee beans scattered around it
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