A recently published article mentions that physical activity and “mentally stimulating tasks” are two factors that recent research suggests can prevent dementia in millions. Tai chi and qigong are not mentioned, but as far as I’m concerned, they are both very good mentally stimulating physical activities. Which means they could be very good for reducing the chance of suffering from dementia in what the article refers to as the world’s “most feared illness in old age.”
In the article (http://www.cbsnews.com/news/one-third-of-dementia-cases-could-be-prevented-alzheimers-report/), researchers list nine activities that can help prevent as much as 33% of the world’s estimated 47 million cases of dementia (expected to triple by 2050), including Alzheimer’s.
For healthy mental activities, researchers recommend people stay in school at least until past the age of 15. The article doesn’t specify kinds of physical exercise, but most articles about that subject usually talk about aerobics, interval training, resistance training, even weight lifting.
However, more and more, people are talking about the benefits of tai chi and qigong, especially for older people. For those of us who have put off exercise practices in their younger years, they offer lower impact activity that offers a wide range of desirable results. With proper practice, tai chi and qigong are among the best “prevention” practices I’ve ever seen.
I see more young people looking into tai chi. I think one reason why is that they are born into more sedentary lifestyles, more urban, more media-centric (“mediated reality”), more passive. Yet, they know they need something that gives their mind and body connection more stimulating health and longevity activities—a focus that can tap into one’s own inner awareness.
This is the very same reason Boddhidharma (Damo) introduced exercises to Buddhists in China 2600 years ago. The body is your vessel through life. Treat it well and give it what it needs. We’re all learning what that means and we’re looking for ways to treat our bodies and minds better.
While reading the dementia article, I noted that physical exercise is always recommended to help reduce the effects of diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure, three factors that cause dementia.
Rather than reciting the old cliché of killing two birds with one stone, I would prefer to say “giving two birds life with a single act.” I feel like tai chi and qigong offer strong possibilities for helping a lot of people who would otherwise suffer from dementia.