Probably, everybody knows that lack of movement leads to numerous health problems. At the same time, doing physical activities that you enjoy the most in the gym can put too much strain on certain areas of the body while neglecting others. Developing a specific strategic approach to your therapeutic activities, however, can be done in a number of different ways.
The way physical activity is seen in the field of western medicine is that physical therapy exercises are based on anatomy and physiology. Different types of exercises are designed to have various benefits. For example, the purpose of stretching exercises is to increase flexibility. The purpose of endurance exercises is to increase the person’s stamina, and the aim of strengthening exercises is to increase one’s strength. Balance and coordination exercises are designed to improve just that, balance and coordination. For a more specific example, in physical therapy, the goal of exercises can be to increase the strength of the quadriceps muscle (Christensen et al., 2018; Pham et al., 2016).
The traditional Chinese medicine has a huge arsenal of therapeutic activities. Those exercises vary greatly in purpose and mechanism. The theory behind these exercises is much different from the exercise therapy that is part of PT, which is probably the best-known type of exercise. The therapeutic exercises in traditional Chinese medicine are used to balance the body’s vital energy and most of the time includes breathing techniques (Huang & Hao, 2019). In the traditional Chinese medicine exercises (such as Qi gong and Tai Chi)—similarly to acupuncture treatments—are modified to individual patterns of disbalance in vital energy and yin and yang, to restore the balance. At the same time, these ancient exercises can be used to improve the same qualities (flexibility, endurance, coordination, or balance) as exercises do in the western world. These activities developed by the ancient Chinese, at least in theory, can do much more, including improving general and specific aspects of wellbeing (Shen et al., 2018). For instance, in traditional Chinese medicine, the goal may be to improve the circulation of qi (vital energy) in the Stomach channel or to increase the vital energy of the Spleen.
To an observer, Qigong may not seem like exercise at all. This method’s practitioners can stay minutes in one position without movements. But Qigong can be used for developing strength as well as endurance. The main goal of Qi Gong is to harmonize breathing and different body postures, and research has shown that its exercises can have positive effects on many health issues including cancer, cardiopulmonary diseases, hypertension, infectious diseases, movement disorder, and fibromyalgia (Dong, Chang & Chen, 2016).
Tai Chi involves a specific set of movements that are done in slow motion and on a regular basis. At first sight, these movements may appear deceptively simple, but as practitioners of this ancient art form gradually discover, its practice becomes increasingly more complex as their expertise builds up. In China, many people practice Tai Chi every day and strongly believe that its benefits affect all aspects of health, but research so far has shown the effectiveness of Tai Chi on balance control and falls prevention, cardiovascular disease, and osteoarthritis most of all (Yang et al., 2015).
Life in New York City rarely allows the city’s residents to relax—or even to slow down! To help you find time to take care of your health and overall wellbeing, the Advanced Holistic Center’s several locations provide maximum convenience to New Yorkers to take advantage of its exercise programs, and it is always within a walking distance if you live in New York City. At the Advanced Holistic Center, we offer even more options. We have experts in other kinds of therapeutic exercises, one western, Pilates, and the other Indian, Yoga, and we try to custom-tailor therapeutic activities to each individual patient. The reality is, the best way to know whether or not you can benefit—and how much you can benefit—from the strengthening exercises of traditional Chinese medicine, other methods, or their possible combinations that we offer is to try them yourself.