Tai Chi for Diabetes

Posted by Grandmaster Gary Khor on 31 Jan 2020

Diabetes is a costly and prevalent health issue in our society.   Due to extensive research we are all reasonably well educated about the importance of diet and exercise to the quality of lifestyle.  Though exercise is recognised as an equally important health maintenance factor it is often assumed that any exercise is better than no exercise.   This generalised approach is fraught with danger.  For example, the stress of sudden, unfamiliar exercise may trigger dangerous complications in the older diabetic.  Organisations such as the International Diabetes Institute recognise the problems associated with recommending general aerobic activities to older type 2 diabetics.  With the availability of increasing research data, it is becoming clear that different groups within the diabetic population also have different exercise requirements.

The prevalence of type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM) in Australia is among the highest of any developed nation. The mainstay of treatment is diet to attain a more ideal body weight, physical activity, and oral hypoglycaemic medications. Both aerobic exercise and resistance training at moderate-high intensity have been shown to improve blood glucose control and insulin resistance in type 2 DM when done on a regular basis.

However, most of the older type 2 diabetic population remains sedentary or insufficiently active. This may be due in part to the presence of co-morbid diseases related to type 2 DM, such as obesity, arthritis, and cardiovascular disease, which may make even moderate aerobic exercise or resistance training difficult to implement and sustain long term.

Tai Chi has been shown to improve aerobic capacity, blood pressure, arthritis symptoms, gait and balance, muscle strength, and reduce fall risk, but has not previously been evaluated for its effects on insulin resistance or glucose homeostasis.

The Australian Academy of Tai Chi & Qigong has created an easy to learn Diabetics Exercise Program.  This Specialised Program has been designed to teach skills that can be used as a platform for a total exercise plan.  It is adaptable to, and suitable for, all ages.

The unique combination of Chinese Health Art exercises, dynamic relaxation techniques and education makes this program invaluable for anyone who is serious about using exercise as a diabetes management tool.   Qualified and specialised instructors teach each client how to combine the elements of the program to enhance blood flow and help stabilise blood sugar levels.

Our program is designed to train each system within the body to operate under the least amount of stress during exercise. This significantly reduces the demand for energy, which decreases the risk of suddenly releasing sugars, which helps to maintain stable blood sugar levels. Clients who complete this specialised Program will gain principles and skills that can be applied to other activities, making them integral components to the individuals’ approach to exercise.

A Tai Chi based exercise program can provide many benefits to those who are diabetes or who are pre-diabetic or who have a high risk of developing diabetes

  • Tai Chi reduces stress and increases the relaxation response.  This can help to lower sugar levels and reduce risk on the cardiovascular system.
  • Tai Chi raises insulin sensitivity which helps the body better manage sugar levels.
  • Tai Chi uses up to 360 calories per hour and can be an effective weight management system.
  • Tai Chi increases the ration of muscle mass to fat raising metabolic levels which helps bring sugar levels down.
  • Tai Chi improves blood circulation which is particularly important for diabetics who may easily develop foot problems.
  • Tai Chi benefits balance problems often associated with Diabetes.
  • Tai Chi benefits the heart by building cardiac reserve, lowering blood viscosity reducing hypertension and developing the venous blood return system.  80% or more of diabetic’s experience problems with their cardiovascular system.
  • Tai chi benefits the immune system which is often depressed in diabetics.