The health benefits of Tai Chi for retirees

Renaissance residents discover an ancient form of movement

Pat Warburton and her husband Ken moved to Renaissance Retirement Living at Victoria Point 12 years ago. It didn’t take long for Pat to join the Tai Chi group. Tai Chi is a practice involving a series of slow, gentle movements and postures. Participants reach a meditative state of mind, and practice controlled breathing. Often described as ‘meditation in motion,’ Tai Chi has also been referred to as ‘medication in motion’ thanks to its numerous health benefits.


After several years the instructor had to leave, but the members decided the group would continue under its own steam. Pat says “There were only a handful of us back then, but we wanted to keep it going as it was so beneficial on many levels. Three of us had done Tai Chi for a while so we continued every week, inviting others to join us.”

The group now has 14 to 18 participants, both men and women with an average age of 70 to 80, with a couple of people in their 90s. Now there are four helpers and Pat coordinates the group. “We start each weekly, hour-long session by concentrating on our breathing, followed by a series of gentle stretches. Balance is an important part of Tai Chi and most, if not all people notice an improvement after coming to the group. Some people use a chair to assist with balance and one of our participants does seated Tai Chi.”

Why Tai Chi is such a good pastime for retired people

There are Tai Chi routines that have been specifically created for the elderly, and Pat’s group follows those created by family physician Dr. Paul Lam, a Tai Chi teacher for over 40 years. The classes involve slow, continuous low-level exercises that take 10 to 15 minutes to complete, with one exercise flowing into another.

“One routine is called Tai Chi walking where we learn to lift our feet just a little, putting the heel down first so it won’t slip. This form of movement helps train our bodies to know what to do in the event of a fall. If we are going to fall our body may remember the movements and be protected.”

A week in the life of a retirement village

Regular Tai Chi practice has been known to assist in the reduction of symptoms associated with arthritis and diabetes and the benefits can include an improvement in balance, flexibility, strength, and brain function such as memory, and concentration.

The Tai Chi group also shares a cuppa and a chat afterward, so it’s been a wonderful way to build friendships and maintain social connections which are important during retirement.

Who can benefit from learning Tai Chi?

According to Pat, anyone can do Tai Chi. “It’s easy to learn the routines and the benefits can be seen quickly – often after the first session. Some notice their mind is calmer, while others feel they have greater flexibility. The majority of people come to our class to improve their balance and prevent falls which is important as we get older. We believe any movement is better than none – and prevention is better than a fall.”

Pat says she personally might go through her routines three times a week at home. “If I get a headache I go outside and do Tai Chi and it just goes away – along with any stress I might have been carrying! It’s a wonderful tool to have… at any age.”

As for her move to Renaissance, Pat says “It’s been the best decision we ever made. Everyone is friendly and there is so much on offer. Nobody should come here and be lonely!”

Discover your "road map" to retirement living

Find more ways to stay active in your retirement

Renaissance Retirement Living in Victoria Point offers a tremendous range of facilities and activities for residents: swimming, bowling, croquet, a fully equipped exercise room, aerobics, aqua aerobics, and yoga, with bush walks and cycle tracks close by.

We support our residents to get involved in starting, running, or participating in groups that keep them as active as they like!

Book into one of our upcoming information sessions and find out what makes Renaissance such a special place to retire. Call us on (07) 3820 7700 or contact us today.

Topics: Living in a retirement village, Healthy living

Posted by Renaissance Retirement Living on 19-Jun-2023 10:11:29
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