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Tai chi workout for fitness

The martial art of Tai-Chi was created over 800 years ago, so legend has it, by a Shao-Lin martial arts practitioner called Master Zhang Sanfeng. The story goes that he was inspired by watching a fight between a snake and a crane, in which the snake twisted away from the attacks of the crane's beak. Thus the softer, fluid movements of Tai-Chi were inspired.

Tai-Chi concentrates on defensive movement and calm inner strength, unlike Shao-Lin, which focuses on fast and powerful attacks. Practice consists of floor exercises, pushing hand, breathing exercise known as Qi-quong, and weaponry skills. The form has been discovered to improve health and fitness in several ways, including:

Cardiovascular health
The slow continuous and flowing movements of this martial art enable the heart rate to remain steady, thus improving circulation, as well as the heart muscle's function.

Increasing lung function
The deep breathing exercises which accompany movements strengthen the diaphragm and increase lung capacity.

Healthy digestive system
The constant muscular contractions in the diaphragm and abdomen caused by deep breathing also encourage blood circulation to the digestive system.

Strengthens the back
Because this martial art focuses on correct and relaxed posture, it helps develop inner core strength. Head and neck posture also strengthen the trapezium muscles, which support the neck and upper back. The practice can also help ease chronic lower back and neck pain.

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