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The Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi: 12 Weeks to a Healthy Body, Strong Heart, and Sharp Mind

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Conventional medical science on the Chinese art of Tai Chi now shows what Tai Chi masters have known for centuries: regular practice leads to more vigor and flexibility, better balance and mobility, and a sense of well-being. Cutting-edge research from Harvard Medical School also supports the long-standing claims that Tai Chi also has a beneficial impact on the health of t Conventional medical science on the Chinese art of Tai Chi now shows what Tai Chi masters have known for centuries: regular practice leads to more vigor and flexibility, better balance and mobility, and a sense of well-being. Cutting-edge research from Harvard Medical School also supports the long-standing claims that Tai Chi also has a beneficial impact on the health of the heart, bones, nerves and muscles, immune system, and the mind. This research provides fascinating insight into the underlying physiological mechanisms that explain how Tai Chi actually works. Dr. Peter M. Wayne, a longtime Tai Chi teacher and a researcher at Harvard Medical School, developed and tested protocols similar to the simplified program he includes in this book, which is suited to people of all ages, and can be done in just a few minutes a day. This book includes:    • The basic program, illustrated by more than 50 photographs    • Practical tips for integrating Tai Chi into everyday activities    • An introduction to the traditional principles of Tai Chi    • Up-to-date summaries of the research literature on the health benefits of Tai Chi    • How Tai Chi can enhance work productivity, creativity, and sports performance    • And much more


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Conventional medical science on the Chinese art of Tai Chi now shows what Tai Chi masters have known for centuries: regular practice leads to more vigor and flexibility, better balance and mobility, and a sense of well-being. Cutting-edge research from Harvard Medical School also supports the long-standing claims that Tai Chi also has a beneficial impact on the health of t Conventional medical science on the Chinese art of Tai Chi now shows what Tai Chi masters have known for centuries: regular practice leads to more vigor and flexibility, better balance and mobility, and a sense of well-being. Cutting-edge research from Harvard Medical School also supports the long-standing claims that Tai Chi also has a beneficial impact on the health of the heart, bones, nerves and muscles, immune system, and the mind. This research provides fascinating insight into the underlying physiological mechanisms that explain how Tai Chi actually works. Dr. Peter M. Wayne, a longtime Tai Chi teacher and a researcher at Harvard Medical School, developed and tested protocols similar to the simplified program he includes in this book, which is suited to people of all ages, and can be done in just a few minutes a day. This book includes:    • The basic program, illustrated by more than 50 photographs    • Practical tips for integrating Tai Chi into everyday activities    • An introduction to the traditional principles of Tai Chi    • Up-to-date summaries of the research literature on the health benefits of Tai Chi    • How Tai Chi can enhance work productivity, creativity, and sports performance    • And much more

30 review for The Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi: 12 Weeks to a Healthy Body, Strong Heart, and Sharp Mind

  1. 4 out of 5

    Will Brown

    If you want some western, science based reason for playing tai chi. Read this book. If you are already a tai chi player, nothing here is news to you. On the other hand, it's about time the western medical establishment became involved in the great tai chi debates that rage. It's about time that tai chi was lifted out of the realms of fiction stories,third rate action movies,and new age mumbo-jumbo crap and some solid western research was done. Well done Dr. Wayne. Many thanks. This book could be t If you want some western, science based reason for playing tai chi. Read this book. If you are already a tai chi player, nothing here is news to you. On the other hand, it's about time the western medical establishment became involved in the great tai chi debates that rage. It's about time that tai chi was lifted out of the realms of fiction stories,third rate action movies,and new age mumbo-jumbo crap and some solid western research was done. Well done Dr. Wayne. Many thanks. This book could be the start of a whole new line of research for tai chi. Imagine combining 2000 year old ideas with modern medicine and finding out they work. Imagine that, tai chi as preventive medicine, no drugs, for free. No or low costs. Amazing. I hope this book reflects a new attitude and the start of lots more research. What took so long. This is a book that the tai chi opponents and proponents should read. We are now on a new path folks. It's about bloody time. ------------------------------------- Just finished reading this book a second time and I can't tell you how happy I am to find someone who explains things without all the new age mumbo jumbo. Every tai chi player should read this.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Deanna

    f you are considering taking up Tai Chi to improve your physical or mental health, I recommend this book to you. If you are a Tai Chi instructor or are considering becoming one, I doubly recommend this book to you. While I would not call this a page-turner, it is a fairly easy read which will bolster your understanding of the benefits of Tai Chi and the processes by which these benefits may come about. The Harvard Medical Guide to Tai Chi is packed full of references to scientific studies on the f you are considering taking up Tai Chi to improve your physical or mental health, I recommend this book to you. If you are a Tai Chi instructor or are considering becoming one, I doubly recommend this book to you. While I would not call this a page-turner, it is a fairly easy read which will bolster your understanding of the benefits of Tai Chi and the processes by which these benefits may come about. The Harvard Medical Guide to Tai Chi is packed full of references to scientific studies on the benefits of Tai Chi for everything from psychiatric illness to vestibular disorders to arthritis and aging. The author clearly states when studies are non-conclusive and where more or better/bigger studies are needed. The author, a long time Tai Chi practitioner and instructor, boils down Tai Chi into what he calls the "Eight Active Ingredients of Tai Chi": 1) Awareness 2) Intention 3) Structural Integration 4) Active Relaxation 5) Strengthening & Flexibility 6) Natural, Freer Breathing 7) Social Support 8) Embodied Spirituality. He uses the Eight Active Ingredients throughout the book to perhaps explain why Tai Chi provides numerous health benefits to the practitioner. He also presents and describes a simplified Tai Chi program in the book complete with photos to demonstrate proper forms. I suppose many will find the simplifed Tai Chi program provided in the book to be of the greatest value, but for me the value of this book is in its many references to random controlled trials and the benefits to health scientifically verified or showing promise. In fact, by the end of the book the many benefits of Tai Chi were getting tiresome and redundant! Perhaps a bad thing when reading, but a good thing for those who practice Tai Chi! This is an excellent book for taking what some would perceive as hocus pocus out of Tai Chi and giving it empirical legs to stand on. While the author clearly respects the origins of Tai Chi in Chinese martial arts, Eastern philosphy, and Traditional Chinese Medicine; not all do nor are required to and for these he presents evidence that what has been anecdotal about the benefits of Tai Chi may now be demonstrated by modern science.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sceadugenga

    First of all let me start by saying my own personal rating of this book is only two stars. This is not because the book is badly written or that there is anything inherently wrong with its presentation. But as a practicing Tai chi player I found nothing in this text that I didn't already know so it was basically preaching to the choir. I know full well the benefits and potential of Tai Chi even without the Harvard School of Medicine telling me so. Having said that I believe the book has merit fo First of all let me start by saying my own personal rating of this book is only two stars. This is not because the book is badly written or that there is anything inherently wrong with its presentation. But as a practicing Tai chi player I found nothing in this text that I didn't already know so it was basically preaching to the choir. I know full well the benefits and potential of Tai Chi even without the Harvard School of Medicine telling me so. Having said that I believe the book has merit for those without a martial-arts background approaching Tai Chi for the first time. It gives a no-nonsense western approach useful for those daunted or confused by other new-age or esoteric style manuals currently on the market. The book is also promising in that it shows that western medicine may finally be realizing that it doesn't have all the answers and has begun to give credit to more holistic forms of treatment. The author also provides a rich list of sources in the notes section which I found useful for further exploration. As far as the form he presents again this may only be useful for someone approaching the art for the first time, I personally feel that a course of a traditional style with a qualified instructor would be more beneficial but that's just my two-cents.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    An important book, but like the guy said, writing about jazz is like dancing about architecture. Wayne makes an excellent case as to why and how tai chi is most healthful, and takes a token stab at teaching some basic movements. But to get serious about it, you need instruction. Or at least youtube.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    This is a terrific reference on the medical benefits of tai chi. I have started taking tai chi classes, but the instructor is not very good at teaching the general ideas behind it. As a result, I wasn’t sure if I should be focused on my breathing, correctly imitating her poses, where my weight was, etc. This book was terrific and explaining what tai chi is all about and how people benefit from it. It discusses a number of medical studies backing up these claims. It was exactly what I needed. This This is a terrific reference on the medical benefits of tai chi. I have started taking tai chi classes, but the instructor is not very good at teaching the general ideas behind it. As a result, I wasn’t sure if I should be focused on my breathing, correctly imitating her poses, where my weight was, etc. This book was terrific and explaining what tai chi is all about and how people benefit from it. It discusses a number of medical studies backing up these claims. It was exactly what I needed. This is not a book to teach you how to do tai chi. There are a number of exercises explained in the book, however they don’t really have enough photographs to teach you how to do tai chi. However I can’t imagine learning tai chi from a book anyway, so this does not count against the book.

  6. 4 out of 5

    MJ

    Excellent background info. on history of tai chi. I'd been hoping for more pictures n stuff. Went to youtube and found a short https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PqxNQ... Shows how to practice basic forms. Excellent background info. on history of tai chi. I'd been hoping for more pictures n stuff. Went to youtube and found a short https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PqxNQ... Shows how to practice basic forms.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Bobbie

    great book, lots of great information and stats and research.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Koppelmann

    I read this for my book club but found it interesting.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Bernie Gourley

    This book provides an overview (and a laymen-friendly literature review) of the scientific findings about tai chi, and it helps a beginner get started in his / her own practice. (Tai chi, short for tai chi chuan, is a Chinese martial art that is called an internal--or soft--style.) The authors achieve an impressive tightrope act. And they manage to do it in a way that reads sincerely, while at the same time providing useful information for all readers. Often books on the science of Eastern heal This book provides an overview (and a laymen-friendly literature review) of the scientific findings about tai chi, and it helps a beginner get started in his / her own practice. (Tai chi, short for tai chi chuan, is a Chinese martial art that is called an internal--or soft--style.) The authors achieve an impressive tightrope act. And they manage to do it in a way that reads sincerely, while at the same time providing useful information for all readers. Often books on the science of Eastern health-enhancing activities (e.g. tai chi, chi gong, or yoga)--even if they are positive on the results of such activities—take digs at people’s beliefs about ideas like chi, prana, meridians, or chakra as the authors attempt to distance themselves from such beliefs. On the other hand, books that cater to the spiritually inclined—even when they are couched in scientific terms—may resort to third-hand anecdotes about the supernatural powers of some ancient master or report methodological train wrecks that support their views alongside sound studies, as long as the latter don’t present any evidence contrary to their belief system. In short, such books often talk in scientific lingo while showing a complete lack of understanding of the scientific method. In this book, Wayne manages to navigate these rocky shores because he’s both a scientist and a longtime tai chi practitioner who genuinely accepts that there may be more at work in the practice than science fully understands. Thus, he knows the importance of testable hypotheses and when a study needs to be validated by more a robust follow up study, but he also reports on the traditional beliefs and isn’t adverse to writing about studies evaluating the benefits of spirituality (note: showing that being spiritual has benefits doesn’t mean that the benefits result from anything spiritual or supernatural.) The book has 14 chapters divided into three parts. The first part introduces the reader to tai chi, describes the dimensions along which tai chi has been shown to offer benefits (the authors call these “the 8 active ingredients of Tai Chi,” relating them to pharmacological medicines), and explains how tai chi can be simplified for beginners (even the short form sequences take a while to be memorized—let alone building any grasp of the intricacies of said forms.) The second part consists of six chapters that report the findings of studies on the health effects of tai chi, as well as discussing the possible mechanisms of those benefits. The topics discussed in this section include: increased balance, bone density, pain mitigation, cardiovascular health, mental performance, psychological well-being, and sleep quality. The book’s last part suggests ways in which the reader can build a tai chi practice. The five chapters in this section deal with the interactive practices of tai chi (tai chi isn’t just the solo forms that you’ve seen elderly people do in the park), integrating tai chi with other health and fitness practices, the potential for practicing tai chi at work, the role of tai chi in creative practices, and tai chi as a practice of lifelong learning (this last chapter gives beginners tips about how to start a practice.) There is also an afterword about how tai chi might play a part in building improved health and well-being in the present era. I found the book to be well-organized to achieve its objective. It’s packed with food for thought. Neophytes will find a lot of benefit in this book, but I suspect even advanced practitioners can glean insights—particularly if said advanced practitioner hasn’t been reading up on the scientific findings. Humor, quotes, and stories are used to lighten the tone and illustrate key points. There are some photos and other graphics where needed (mostly in chapter 3), but they are relatively sparse for a book on a practice like tai chi. (That’s not a complaint. I think there are far too many attempts to teach movement arts through books—an impossible task—and not enough effort put into conveying the kind of ancillary information that is transmissible in book form.) I’d recommend this book for anyone who’s interested in knowing more about the health benefits of tai chi, and moving beyond the platitudes often heard but seldom evaluated.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Fred Forbes

    I have some planning clients in their mid 80's who drive 30 miles round trip several times a week to practice Tai Chi and they spoke highly of the practice and recommended this book. Since I have had trouble finding some spare time to practice meditation, I thought maybe this would work better. Coincidentally, the local Art Center announced that in addition to Yoga lessons, they would be offering Tai Chi I signed up about the same time I started this book. (I have since given the book to my "Mas I have some planning clients in their mid 80's who drive 30 miles round trip several times a week to practice Tai Chi and they spoke highly of the practice and recommended this book. Since I have had trouble finding some spare time to practice meditation, I thought maybe this would work better. Coincidentally, the local Art Center announced that in addition to Yoga lessons, they would be offering Tai Chi I signed up about the same time I started this book. (I have since given the book to my "Master.) Since he describes the practice a s "moving meditation", it sort of solves that issue and I do find that I feel better - looser, more calm, more connected after the sessions. The book reports those common effects and reports study after study which reinforces the impact of Tai Chi on improving various medical conditions. This is both a weakness and a strength of the book; interested, you will like that part, not, you'll be bored by the repetitive nature of the material. The history of the practice is well reported and interesting but I feel the book was weak in the "how to" area. Suggest one try it first, then read the book if your interest is sufficiently piqued.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Betsy

    The book was easy to read and understand. It presented findings documenting the very positive effects Tai Chi has on health conditions involving the heart, joints, bones or muscles. Creativity and Tai Chi was talked about. A number of painters, writers, musicians, and dancers who practice Tai Chi expressed a notable improvement in creativity. I enjoyed Dr. Wayne's writing style. I was encouraged to continue my Qi Gong, a practice related to Tai Chi. I highly recommend this book. Betsy O. Borcha The book was easy to read and understand. It presented findings documenting the very positive effects Tai Chi has on health conditions involving the heart, joints, bones or muscles. Creativity and Tai Chi was talked about. A number of painters, writers, musicians, and dancers who practice Tai Chi expressed a notable improvement in creativity. I enjoyed Dr. Wayne's writing style. I was encouraged to continue my Qi Gong, a practice related to Tai Chi. I highly recommend this book. Betsy O. Borchardt

  12. 5 out of 5

    Larry Wood

    Very thorough account of the value of Tai Chi in all walks of life. More research results, than a "How-To" book, although some basic step-by-step movements are explained. I enjoyed the emphasis on Tai Chi as a multilevel experience involving meditation, physical exercise, and envisioning positive outcomes. One might say that you have to BELIEVE in Tai Chi's possible effectiveness for the practice to have the most positive influence on the quality of your life. Very thorough account of the value of Tai Chi in all walks of life. More research results, than a "How-To" book, although some basic step-by-step movements are explained. I enjoyed the emphasis on Tai Chi as a multilevel experience involving meditation, physical exercise, and envisioning positive outcomes. One might say that you have to BELIEVE in Tai Chi's possible effectiveness for the practice to have the most positive influence on the quality of your life.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Salsabrarian

    Our tai chi instructor recommended this book and I mainly read the section on the health benefits as indicated by research studies. It all sounds good but the only thing is that the author keeps saying "further studies need to be done" to support current findings. Basically, doing tai chi doesn't hurt but no one's completely sure about its full benefits. Our tai chi instructor recommended this book and I mainly read the section on the health benefits as indicated by research studies. It all sounds good but the only thing is that the author keeps saying "further studies need to be done" to support current findings. Basically, doing tai chi doesn't hurt but no one's completely sure about its full benefits.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Cherie

    This book was all right, except that it seemed quite repetitive and like it was saying the same things over and over in different ways to make you understand the benefits of tai chi. It seemed like a way-too-long promo book for tai chi.

  15. 4 out of 5

    SinDe Barnwell

    Interesting and informative. Especially recommended for anyone who is considering Tai Chi as a form of exercise.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Bcoghill Coghill

    Answered the questions I had when beginning this book. I did not read all but was seeking specific information and came away satisfied.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Janet

    Definitely interesting if you want to learn about the benefits of tai chi.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Margaret

    It seems that Tai Chi is the answer to all of our health problems. I have found Tai Chi very relaxing.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Tony

    Excellent read. Very informative. Of course my teacher does it differently...

  20. 4 out of 5

    Mitch Goldfarb

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sandy A.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Julieanne Tobin

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ramiz

  24. 4 out of 5

    Shannon Dillman

  25. 5 out of 5

    Joan

  26. 5 out of 5

    louis dutch

  27. 5 out of 5

    Pat

  28. 4 out of 5

    Alex

  29. 4 out of 5

    Edward/Cynthia Wren

  30. 4 out of 5

    JD Ellis

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