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T'ai Chi is Good for Those with Chronic Illness

T'ai Chi

For a practice that's more than 2,000 years old, t'ai chi is surprisingly relevant to many of our more modern maladies.

"It's often called 'meditation in motion'," says Bill Douglas, an instructor at Turning Point. "But with so many benefits, it might be known as 'medication in motion'."

Douglas, the author of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to T'ai Chi and QiGong," cites study after study illustrating positive results. But his students provide the proof Douglas enjoys most.

After just 6 weeks of participating in T'ai Chi for the Heart, Nancy Schneider's blood pressure dropped by 20% and she no longer needed a cardiac procedure.

"Taking t'ai chi is the only thing I've changed," says Schneider.

Al Hussar has lost more than 20 pounds, lowered his blood pressure and reduced his medications.

"It's not a magic pill, but it's the kind of medicine that's fun to take," he says.

With no fancy equipment, no gym membership and – thanks to Turning Point donors – no fee, t'ai chi is about as safe and easy as exercise gets. It also burns about as many calories as surfing or moderate aerobic exercise.

"T'ai chi teaches us to move effortlessly, so there's very little impact – but there's still movement," says Douglas, who adapts his teaching to his students' conditions and abilities.

Douglas, who has taught for more than 25 years and has charged as much as $2,500 for an hour-long clinic, encourages people living with chronic illness to take advantage of what Turning Point offers at no charge. He also emphasizes that classes and programs are open to all patients and families, wherever they receive treatment.

"Turning Point and The University of Kansas Health System have created something extraordinary," he says. "I wish I had a giant megaphone to promote it."

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