The last thing most people think of when they hear “Tai Chi” is weight loss. The same usually applies to people recovering from an injury or illness. Sweaty people on treadmills and painful sessions with physical therapists are what most people see in these circumstances. The reason for this is simple: People who practice Tai Chi seldom break a sweat. In the West, we are programmed to think “no pain-no gain” and our language, with terms like “burning” calories distract us from some of the causes of excess weight gain.

Tai Chi also burns a great deal more calories than most people are aware of too. A downhill skier burns about 320 calories an hour while a person doing a solo form set will burn about 280 calories an hour, and you can do it without damaging muscles and/or joints and without risking death from avalanche.

There are a number of underlying causes for weight gain:

Injury

Patients recovering from injuries, especially joint, bone and muscle injuries, often have problems rebuilding muscles because of limited loss of function. People suffering from or recovering from debilitating diseases are also subject to weight gain because of years of sedentary, or even bed-ridden, life. Depression is a major cause of obesity in the United States.

Depression

Depressed people eat more and worry less about the health benefits of what they are eating. They want food that makes them happy and, unfortunately, that is seldom healthy food. Depression can come from numerous sources however. Exercise releases endorphins to the brain however, which has been proven in numerous studies to relieve mild to moderate depression.

External Trauma

External trauma is probably the largest cause of depression. Tai Chi can help with this problem because it allows students to focus on other things and to deal with trauma on their own terms. This external trauma, some event from their life, is difficult to deal with because of the internal chatter we all have. Many people use food to forget. While Tai Chi is not done specifically to lose weight, its effects it will help you obtain the weight or figure that you want. Tai Chi does not help you burn calories (although it does do that well) as much as it helps you get control of both your mind and body, making them work in harmony: By refining the flow of energy in your body it is able to work more efficiently, with relieves the symptoms of many conditions, including psychological.

Regular Tai Chi practice helps regulate the metabolism, prompting a fall in blood glucose levels and promoting homeostasis across the bodies systems. It improves breathing, provides cardiovascular exercise, improves immune response, and improves circulation down to a micro level, all of which help our digestive process function more efficiently. Weight gain is caused because the body is unable to process material and begins to store certain elements for later use. When the metabolism is brought under control both the use of nutrients and elimination of waste is much more efficient.

If you want to lose weight one of the first things you have to do is to reduce stress. Even beginning a new diet program can be stressful. In many cases Tai Chi has been used to help relieve the stress instead of using medications like Prozac or others which often help cause weight gain because they encourage a sedentary lifestyle. Tai Chi allows you to combine a powerful calorie burning tool with a stress reducing technique that allows you to attack the problem from two different angles.

Another reason why reducing stress is so important is that even mild stress can begin to throw hormone levels out of balance. As the stress increases, the imbalances increase, and these imbalances are one of the prime causes of not only weight gain, but many other problems as well. When we feel stress our brain produces cortisol, which helps the body deal with stress. Extreme or extended stress however leads to an overproduction of cortisol, which creates problems with the balance of estrogen and progesterone in the body.

Cortisol is a hormone, produced by the adrenal glands, responsible for helping the body cope with stress. On a short term level, cortisol can be life-saving; however, the overproduction of cortisol can interfere with the function of other hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone. These two hormones balance each other. If too much estrogen is produced, limiting the amount of progesterone, the body will not be able to burn enough fat to keep up and will store the remainder. Tai Chi practice reduces and even removes stress, preventing this very preventable imbalance from happening. Belive it or not, Tai Chi can help you lose weight. It may not exactly be what you expected, but you’ll be surprised how well it helps.