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The Relationship between Tai Chi Chuan and Your Health

roosterbambooThe physical existence of each human being depends on three major substances—oxygen, water, and food (i.e., nutrients such as protein, vitamins, and minerals). These elements support the body's structure. Each person's body is individual yet the same functions must occur. The body may be broken down into its major systems as follows: the brain and nervous system, the immune system, the cardiovascular system, the respiratory system, the digestive system, and the excretory system. The environment constantly affects the body. Water, oxygen, and nutrition enable the body to function; proper exercise enables it to function well.

(See figure 1.) Figure One

Lack of oxygen, water, or nutrition causes death. In the case of oxygen, it is absorbed through the lungs into the capillaries. It is transported through the blood stream to all parts of the body including the various organs to support the body's metabolism. Oxygen especially sustains the brain. Water is important in regulating body temperature. It is crucial to survival because it is the most plentiful component of the body. Nutrition is also extremely important, although death from improper nutrition occurs more slowly than from lack of water or air. Carbohydrates, proteins, and fats provide the body's fuel. Dietary fiber reduces the risk of gastrointestinal and cardiovascular disease. Vitamins and minerals are needed in relatively small amounts, but the absence or deficiency of just one can cause major illness—for example, beriberi, scurvy, or anemia—or contribute to the development of others such as cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, or fatigue. Science is constantly discovering the myriad functions of food.

Proper exercise could be considered a fourth basic element required to support proper functioning of the human body. Historically life is associated with movement, and only recently have large numbers of people adopted a sedentary lifestyle, due in large part to changes in technology. The human body is well adapted for motion, and it functions poorly without it. Exercise is now recommended treatment for such problems as heart disease, obesity, and depression. Tai chi chuan provides many health benefits through regular practice. The age-old art of tai chi chuan encourages the body's own natural health maintenance and healing processes with positive effects on the various parts of the body.

Copyright 2000 Y.K.
Wong All rights reserved. No material may be reproduced without the written permission of the author.