Can Tai Chi Relieve Arthritis Pain in Seniors?

Can Tai Chi Relieve Arthritis Pain in Seniors

When it comes to healthy aging, quite honestly, there’s a lot to do. You’re supposed to make sure to keep your body active and your brain engaged all while maintaining your social connections as well. Sure, the benefits to your overall well-being are worth the effort, but retirement is supposed to be a time with less responsibility on your plate, right? Well, it turns out that in senior living you can have your cake and eat it too, so to speak. Here’s how programs like our Vivid Life make keeping active, engaged, and connected easy and fun! 

Benefits of Healthy Aging 

Good things happen when you focus on healthy aging. In addition to feeling better overall, which in and of itself is a win, other benefits of keeping active, engaged, and connected include:  

  • Improved ability to do everyday things ​ 
  • Reduced impact of illness and chronic disease​ 
  • Enhanced mobility, flexibility, and balance
  • Improved sleep
  • Increased energy level
  • Reduced feelings of depression and stress
  • Increased feelings of happiness and self-confidence
  • Reduced risk of cognitive decline 
  • Increased mental adaptability and cognitive reserve 
  • Improved memory recall and problem-solving skills 
  • Improved concentration and attention to detail  

How Senior Living Can Help 

At home, particularly when living alone, it can be hard to stay as active, engaged, and connected as you’d like. From lack of opportunity to lack of motivation to lack of transportation to mobility challenges, and more, it’s tough, we get it! That’s why we created the Vivid Life program in our senior living communities. It’s composed of three parts: Vibrant Body, Vibrant Brain, and Vibrant Connections. Here’s what each entails:  

Vibrant Body We offer amenities such as a state-of-the-art fitness center, a pool, walking trails, gardening opportunities, and even a dog park to help you stay active. A sample of activities includes:  

  • Walking club – Daily walks at different outdoor locations using pedometers to measure steps. 
  • Yoga – At least once per week for gentle yoga, and once per week for mindful breathing. 
  • Fitness classes – At least two times per week using a variety of hand weights, resistance bands, and circuit-type exercises. 
  • Tai Chi – At least once per week with a live instructor. 
  • Non-traditional exercise – Dancing, gardening, etc. at least two times per week. 
  • Physical games and sports – Golf, putting, bowling, croquet, bocce, and ping pong available daily with organized events one to two times per week. 

Vibrant Brain We offer monthly calendars filled with classes, events, creative arts, and enrichment opportunities to help keep you engaged. A sample of activities includes: 

  • Visiting lecture series – Twice per month with topics such as cultural, historical, local interest, career-oriented, etc. 
  • Creative art series – At least one per week with a theme that runs 3-6 weeks, such as poetry writing, storytelling, painting, digital photography, etc. 
  • Learning series – At least three times per month with an emphasis on learning something new such as foreign language, sign language, technology, hobbies, etc. 
  • Games – At least one time per week and may include poker, bridge, Scrabble, etc. 
  • Mindfulness – A meditation class once per week and gratitude discussion group twice monthly. 
  • Church service – At least once a week through visits by local churches. 
  • Stress reduction – At least once per month class that offers deep breathing exercises, nature walks, music appreciation, spa-type treatments, etc. 

 Vibrant Connections We offer resident-led clubs, social events, outings and volunteer opportunities for any interest to help you stay connected. A sample of activities includes: 

  • Outings – At least twice per month and may include going to concerts, art shows, museum visits, theatre productions, etc. 
  • Intergenerational programming – At least once per month and focuses on building relationships between young adults/children and residents. 
  • New resident welcome party – At least once per month to formally introduce all new residents, and includes ice breakers, social games, etc. to encourage connection. 
  • Philanthropic program – At least once per month provide residents the opportunity to give back to the community, such as volunteering for a local food bank or pet shelter. 
  • Resident-led clubs – May include game clubs, professional clubs, common interests, etc. that meet at least monthly.  

What’s more, it’s all right outside your door (or transportation is provided offsite) and all in a supportive environment with home maintenance, housekeeping, and restaurant-style dining freeing your time to make it even easier to stay active, engaged, and connected. 

Learn more about Vitality Living’s Vivid Life programs. Or find a Vitality Living community near you today to schedule a tour. 



Autumn is a season of the year where temperatures can fluctuate widely. As the thermometer rises and falls, so too does the barometric pressure. For older adults who have osteoarthritis, these ups and downs can translate to increased pain and swelling in damaged joints. This can seriously limit a senior’s ability to carry on their normal daily routine. .

But research shows an ancient form of exercise called Tai Chi might offer hope to combat arthritis pain in seniors.

Research on Tai Chi and Arthritis Pain in Seniors

Scientists conducted a study of 200 adult participants living with osteoarthritis in their knees. The goal of the project was to determine if Tai Chi offered similar — or even better — results than traditional physical therapy for managing arthritis.

Over a 12 week period, participants were split up in to two groups.

  • Traditional Physical Therapy: One group of participants engaged in traditional physical therapy. Their regimens included two 30-minute sessions of one-on-one physical therapy each week for six weeks. That was followed by six weeks of home-based physical therapy that was monitored by staff.
  • The other group engaged in Tai Chi. They attended two 1-hour Tai Chi sessions each week for 12 weeks.

While both groups felt less pain at the end of the study, those who practiced Tai Chi enjoyed even greater health benefits. Most notably, Tai Chi improved participants’ mental health and overall quality of life.

How Tai Chi Benefits Arthritis Sufferers

How can this seemingly slow moving form of exercise help people with arthritis manage their pain and symptoms? Like Chair Yoga, another form of exercise that helps older adults improve their overall health, Tai Chi nurtures the body, mind and spirit.

The Tai Chi for Health Institute says among the many benefits people who practice this form of exercise receive are:

  • Greater Muscle Strength: Tai Chi builds muscle mass in the muscles that surround damaged joints. Improved muscle strength helps to relieve some of the pressure on the joint itself. This adds up to reduced swelling and pain.
  • Increased Flexibility: One of the challenges for people with arthritis pain is that it hurts to move damaged joints. But the inactivity that often results leads to stiffer joints which further inhibits mobility. The steady, gentle stretches that make up the practice of Tai Chi help to increase flexibility.
  • Improved Fitness: While Tai Chi looks to be a very mild form of exercise, it actually builds overall strength and fitness while teaching better breathing techniques. Older adults who practice it on a regular basis will find they have more energy and greater stamina. Both can help them stay active and avoid being sedentary. For seniors with arthritis, staying active is the best way to manage pain and symptoms.

Empowering Successful Aging

At Vitality Senior Living, we empower seniors to live well at any age. One way we do that is by helping connect older adults with the resources they need to keep learning. By subscribing to our blog, you will receive the latest news and research on aging well delivered right to your inbox!

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