Tai chi, Pilates and yoga are great low-impact activities. They focus on improving your balance and core strength. Generally, these activities are accessible to everyone no matter your age or ability.
Tai chi, Pilates and yoga provide great health benefits. They're particularly popular because building strength and balance can reduce the risk of falling, as well as ease the symptoms of various health conditions. Many of the movements and poses involved can also be adapted for people with disabilities, including wheelchair users.
You can search for a Tai chi, Pilates or Yoga class near you.
Tai chi was originally created as a form of martial art. Today it's practised as a health-promoting, low-impact activity.
Types of tai chi
There are different types of tai chi which vary in speed and the poses you need to hold. If you attend a class you may find the teacher practises various styles and teaches tai chi in their own unique way. Ask them if their class is right for you.
Health benefits of Tai chi
While there's room for further study on its health benefits, research has suggested that tai chi can help:
- reduce stress levels
- improve balance
- increase muscle strength in your legs
- improve general mobility and flexibility
Pilates aims to strengthen your body overall. The emphasis is on improving general fitness and wellbeing. It can be done on a mat or with the aid of resistance equipment for building strength.
Health benefits of Pilates
The health benefits of Pilates are thought to include improved:
- muscle toning
There's also some evidence that suggests Pilates can be beneficial if you suffer from back pain as the use of equipment allows you to exercise while your back is being supported.
Although there's been little scientific research into its benefits, Pilates is generally considered a safe and beneficial form of exercise.
Yoga is an ancient form of exercise that's based around performing different poses or postures.
Types of yoga
There are many different styles of yoga, the most common including Ashtanga, Iyengar and Sivananda. Some types are more intense than others. They tend to have a different area of emphasis, like posture or breathing. No style is necessarily better than any other. The key is to find a class appropriate for your ability level.
Health benefits of yoga
Yoga is great for helping to build strength and flexibility. It also focuses on breathing which can boost your physical and mental wellbeing.
Yoga can help improve your balance by focusing on strengthening muscles in your lower body, particularly the knees, ankles and hips.
You shouldn't worry about not being flexible or fit enough to try yoga. Beginner level classes are common at most gyms and leisure centres, as are classes designed especially for expectant mothers.
Other health benefits of tai chi, Pilates and yoga
There's evidence that suggests tai chi, Pilates and yoga can be beneficial if you have:
It's advised that you start by going to a class to learn tai chi, Pilates or yoga with a trained instructor. They'll be able to correct any mistakes and advise on stretches and poses best suited for you. This reduces the chance of strain or injury compared to practicing yourself. After this you could practice the exercises at home with the help of an app, book or DVD.
As Pilates usually requires equipment, you'll need to attend a class or one-on-one training session with an instructor. These are common in most gyms and leisure centres.
As for equipment, you'll need comfortable work out clothing which allows you to move and stretch freely. You'll also need a mat, most classes require you to bring your own.