Ask the Expert: Tai Chi
Exercise and integrative wellness have been shown to provide many benefits to cancer patients. We will be featuring our experts in a series of articles that will take a closer look at the various exercise and integrative wellness programs available at the Community Cancer Center and how they benefit our patients. First up is Tai Chi instructor, Gerry Hopkins.
How long have you been practicing Tai Chi? How long have you been teaching at the Community Cancer Center?
I have been practicing Tai Chi and Qigong for 22 years and teaching for over 16 years. I began teaching at the Community Cancer Center about six or seven years ago.
What is Tai Chi?
Tai Chi is a Chinese martial art that is most often practiced as a gentle form of exercise and mindful meditation. When practiced this way, Tai Chi can be considered a form of Qigong. Qigong consists of a variety of Chinese therapeutic exercises that have been around for at least 2,500 years. Qigong looks like Tai Chi, but is generally easier to do.
In what ways can Tai Chi benefit cancer patients, survivors and caregivers?
First off, it can benefit most people as a method for reducing stress and bringing about a sense of well-being. In addition, practicing Tai Chi and Qigong allows us to be active participants in our own healing and health maintenence. Regular practice of Tai Chi and Qigong can help expand flexibility, improve balance, and increase muscular strength. There is also evidence that shows practicing Tai Chi and Qigong can improve quality of life, diminish fatigue, enhance immune function, and support cognition in cancer patients.
What is your goal(s) when working with patients at the Community Cancer Center?
My goal is to provide a positive experience that encourages people to enjoy movement and to lead an active and healthy life.
What is your favorite part about teaching at the Community Cancer Center?
The people in my classes are very nice, really fun and a delight to be around. They deserve most of the credit for creating a positive place to practice. They make my job quite easy.
Anything else you’d like to add?
It’s normal to be a little hesitant when considering attending your first Tai Chi class. We were all newcomers to this unusual form of exercise at one time, so your teacher and classmates have been in your shoes. Be assured you can count on us to provide support and guidance in a safe and pleasant environment.
To learn more about exercise and integrative wellness programs available at the Community Cancer Center, call us at (319) 558-4876. To see our class schedule, click here.