A Free Tai Chi Class For Seniors
Friday - May 18, 2011
Holding the ball, parting wild horse’s mane, single whip, waving hands like clouds, repulse monkey, brush knee, fair lady works at shuttles and grasp the peacock’s tail.
These are the names of eight movements based on the yang style of Tai Chi which can help to improve your balance, explains Jerry Punzal, a certified instructor who will teach these exercises to seniors at the 18th annual National Senior Health & Fitness Day May 25 from 8 to 11 a.m. at YMCA Central Branch (401 Atkinson Drive).
An estimated 100,000 seniors from across the country are expected to participate in this national health event for older Americans.
Locally, the free program is hosted by Attention Plus Care and YMCA of Honolulu.
“The theme this year is Make Fitness a Goal for Life,” says Krista Groothuis, marketing and sales manager of Attention Plus Care. “This event is a wonderful opportunity for our seniors to experience a variety of fun exercise classes that are offered in our community. The goal is to encourage seniors to live a healthy lifestyle and incorporate physical activity into their daily routine.”
According to Punzal, Tai Chi-Moving for Better Balance is endorsed by the Centers for Disease Control as an intervention for fall prevention and fear of falling.
He says the program he teaches has been implemented in community centers in Oregon with collected data showing a decrease in falls of up to 55 percent with its participants.
“(In Tai Chi) you utilize the basic principles of (this exercise) which would be to relax and let go,” explains Punzal. “You also strive for proper postural alignment, and in doing so the back stays straight throughout movement. Therefore we’re using the joints in the most efficient manner and we’re also striving to utilize abdominal breathing.
“It’s a method of moving in a relaxed, non-stressed manner, and for this specific program we’re looking to have the person feel a centerness, to have an awareness of their center of gravity, so when they move in any direction they are very aware of how to move in a way that keeps them grounded.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among those age 65 and older, falls are the leading cause of injury death. They are also the most common cause of nonfatal injuries and hospital admissions for trauma. The CDC also reports that in 2007, more than 18,000 older adults died from unintentional fall injuries.
Punzal says these statistics show that falls among older adults are a very significant problem for our population. However, he recommends Tai Chi-Moving for Better Balance for not only older adults, but also for anyone with balance issues, as well as people who have been sedentary for a long time and are wanting to get back into exercising. He adds that Tai Chi is a low-impact exercise that is safe and easy to learn.
In addition to the Tai Chi-Moving for Better Balance class, which takes place at 9:30 a.m., the upcoming Senior Health & Fitness Day also will offer a healthy aging presentation, blood pressure screenings and various health-related exhibits at 8 a.m.; Silver&Fit (a class designed for non-active to moderately active older adults that focuses on increasing flexibility, joint stability, balance, coordination, muscular strength and cardiovascular endurance by using resistance bands and dumbbells) at 9 a.m.; and Zumba Gold (a Latin-inspired fitness class with easy to follow dance steps) at 10 a.m.
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