• You're all caught up!

Weight Loss Benefits of Tai Chi

author image Martin Booe
Martin Booe writes about health, wellness and the blues. His byline has appeared in the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and Bon Appetit. He lives in Los Angeles.

If you've seen people perform Tai Chi, you may be impressed by its flowing, graceful sequence of movements. But, its moderate, mindful pace makes you wonder if it causes you to work up enough of a sweat to help you lose weight.

While it's true that Tai Chi is not exactly a massive calorie burner, it may bestow numerous benefits beyond simple calorie expenditure that may assist with weight loss. If you've got a lot of weight to lose, dropping all of it through Tai Chi may not be a realistic expectation. However, understanding how Tai Chi can boost your efforts can have a positive effective on your body weight will help you develop a complete regimen for healthy weight loss.

Read More: The 8 Best Tai Chi Movements for Health

Tai Chi and Calories

Tai Chi may not be the most vigorous exercise on the planet, but its calorie-burning effects are not insignificant. An average woman (5 feet 6 inches, 165 pounds) burns about 340 calories in a typical, 90-minute Thai Chi class while an average male (5 feet 9 inches, 195 pounds) burns almost 400 calories. That's about equal to walking at 3.5 mph for the same amount of time.

Because you've got to burn 3500 calories more than you take in to lose a pound of weight, you'd lose less than a pound a week by taking a Tai Chi class daily. However, although Thai Chi may not be the fast track to weight loss, it offers many benefits that are very much a part of a sure track to weight loss. Like Chinese medicine, Thai Chi works slowly and takes considerable time to master -- 36 hours of training to even start getting the hang of it, according to the Tai Chi Foundation.

A large, randomized controlled study in the journal Evidence-based and Complementary Medicine, found that participants who practiced only a half hour a day, 5 days a week, for 12 weeks, lost an average of a pound. That's not a lot of weight, but this and other studies indicate that Tai Chi brings about marked improvement in blood lipids and fasting blood sugar, all of which bodes well for future and continued weight loss.

It should be noted that the actual 30-minute class was preceded by 10 minutes of warm-up exercises and concluded with 5 minutes of cool-down.

The Mind-Body Connection

Thai Chi began hundreds of years ago as a martial art. It's based on the belief that true power comes from mastery of the energy within as opposed to external displays of force. Therefore, Thai Chi is known as an inner martial art that also emphasizes harmonizing yin and yang, the opposing forces of the universe.

Thai Chi's practitioners sometimes call it "meditation in motion" and believe that, as with yoga, with it arises a natural mindfulness that will help diminish bad eating patterns.

What's more, those who've been sedentary are sure to find that Thai Chi will expand their range of motion and overall mobility, ultimately leading to greater movement and a more active lifestyle. What's more, Thai Chi has also been shown to promote better sleep and lower stress -- both necessary ingredients for keeping your weight down.

Read More: Thai Chi Exercises in a Chair

LiveStrong Calorie Tracker
Lose Weight. Feel Great! Change your life with MyPlate by LIVESTRONG.COM
  • Gain 2 pounds per week
  • Gain 1.5 pounds per week
  • Gain 1 pound per week
  • Gain 0.5 pound per week
  • Maintain my current weight
  • Lose 0.5 pound per week
  • Lose 1 pound per week
  • Lose 1.5 pounds per week
  • Lose 2 pounds per week
  • Female
  • Male
ft. in.



Demand Media