Tai Chi, which is short for Tai Chi Chuan, is an ancient mind-body Chinese practice that has since evolved into a graceful form of exercise. Often referred to as – mediation in motion – it involves a series of slow, low-impact movements performed in an engaging, focused way while incorporating deep breathing exercises.
In Tai Chi, you go through a series of motions, pausing through each of them while focusing on your breathing and the sensations in your body. That’s where the meditation bit comes into play.
The practice doesn’t just enhance balance and flexibility; it reduces stress and anxiety as well. The fact that it is a low-impact exercise puts minimal strain on the muscles and joints. This makes it suitable for older adults who may not be able to engage in other forms of intense exercise.
There are many styles of Tai Chi, each with its own unique principles. Some focus on health maintenance, and others on the martial art (or Kung Fu) aspects of the practice. We embarked on a mission to find the best Tai Chi DVD for seniors that you can use or gift to an older loved one in your life.
Table of Contents
- How We Tested and Compared These Products
- Our Pick: BodyWisdom Tai Chi for Beginners – Best Overall
- Best Alternatives
- Tai Chi Fit: Over 50 – Best for Beginners
- Discover Tai Chi – Best for Balance and Mobility
- Tai Chi: The 24 Forms – Best for Fitness and Relaxation
- How to Choose the Best Tai Chi DVD for Seniors – Buying Guide
How We Tested and Compared These Products
The first thing we were interested in was finding Tai Chi DVDs specifically created for older individuals. We were looking for those with exercises curated for seniors aged 55 years and older.
Next, we looked at the actual instruction. We wanted to see seniors in the video performing those exercises. That’s how we could tell it was safe for them. We were interested in Tai Chi exercises targeting beginners with styles meant to increase strength, flexibility, and balance.
Finally, we only wanted videos with expert instructors and health professionals. We leaned more toward videos by Dr. Paul Lam, David Dorian, Scott Cole, and world-renowned Tai Chi instructor Chris Pei. Their videos have a proven success rate in the over-55 demographic.
Our Pick: BodyWisdom Tai Chi for Beginners – Best Overall
- Number of exercise routines: 8
- Fitness level: Beginner
- Duration per workout: 10-30 minutes
- Total runtime: 4 hours
Our top pick for the best Tai Chi DVD for seniors is the BodyWisdom Tai Chi for Beginners. You can tell a lot of time, effort, and resources went into creating these videos to make this DVD the masterpieces it is.
It features a total of eight exercises led by Tai Chi master Chris Pei, each of which lasts 10-30 minutes for a total runtime of 4 hours. For videos that were shot 10+ years ago, the quality is outstanding. Each session features a series of low-impact exercises customized for seniors and individuals looking to improve mobility.
We liked how detailed the lessons were. There were clear step-by-step instructions that we found quite easy to follow. It also featured modified pose alternatives for less flexible individuals.
The stances are designed to relax your mind, promote general health and wellness, increase the flow of energy through your body, and reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety. All these have proven to reduce blood pressure, effectively minimizing the risk of heart disease.
From a physical standpoint, the BodyWisdom Tai Chi for beginners has had a remarkably high success rate in promoting better balance, core strength, and flexibility. All in all, it’s a solid choice for individuals over 55.
- Factory sealed DVD
- Chris Pei (Actor)
- Michael Wohl (Director)
Tai Chi Fit: Over 50 – Best for Beginners
- Number of exercise routines: 1
- Fitness level: Beginner
- Duration per workout: 30 minutes
- Total runtime: 40 minutes
If you’re looking for something a little more recent, you might like what the Tai Chi Over 50 DVD brings to the table. Unlike BodyWisdom’s Tai Chi for Beginners workouts, the Over 50 DVD only has one exercise session, which lasts approximately 30 minutes. While we would have preferred to have a little more variety, we decided to give it a chance, and we’re glad we did.
The routine was easy to follow along, and we liked that there was an older individual in the video doing the workouts as well. The lessons are led by David-Dorian Ross – a well-known Tai Chi master and teacher. He provides clear step-by-step instructions at a moderate pace. We were surprised by how fast 30 minutes went by.
Tai Chi Over 50 features a series of low-impact, full-body exercises that can be done while standing or sitting. Each Tai Chi movement is designed to promote better balance, improve flexibility, and build strength. It also combines deep breathing exercises that center your qi, effectively calming your mind and relieving stress.
All in all, if you’re looking for a beginner-friendly Tai Chi routine specifically designed for seniors and individuals with low mobility, this DVD might be just what the doctor ordered.
- BESTSELLER!** TaijiFit series by David-Dorian Ross
- Mirror-view Follow-along movements
- Perfect Easy DVD for Beginners
Discover Tai Chi – Best for Balance and Mobility
- Number of exercise routines: 2
- Fitness level: Beginner
- Duration per workout: 8-22 minutes
- Total runtime: 35 minutes
Scott Cole is a household name in the American Tai Chi and physical fitness realm. In his Discover Tai Chi DVD, he leads you through a series of easy-to-follow routines specially designed for beginners, older adults, and physically challenged individuals.
The Discover Tai Chi program only has one workout routine that guides you through different movements to improve mobility, build better balance, and promote flexibility. This beginner DVD is one in a series of four Discover Tai Chi videos. The other three titles in the series include Weight Loss, AM/PM, and Back Care.
The exercises can be done while standing or sitting and are recommended by many arthritis foundations and senior health programs. Scott also demonstrates low impact modifications for individuals with injuries, arthritis, or mobility issues.
Some users have reported decreased stress and anxiety levels and improved sleeping patterns after a few weeks of doing the routine. If you suffer from chronic back pain, you’ll definitely benefit from this DVD.
- Factory sealed DVD
- Scott Cole, Claire Karstadt (Actors)
- Scott Cole (Director)
Tai Chi: The 24 Forms – Best for Fitness and Relaxation
- Number of exercise routines: 24
- Fitness level: Beginner
- Duration per workout: 10-20 minutes
- Total runtime: 4 hours
If you want to learn Tai Chi, this would be the best DVD to get. Tai Chi: The 24 Forms by Dr. Paul Lam is the best introduction to Tai Chi there is. Dr. Lam starts with the basics, taking you through all the different Tai Chi variations to equip you with the foundational knowledge required to master the practice.
We like that he starts by enumerating all the benefits that come with incorporating these movements into your daily routine. The video contains step-by-step instructions that are pretty easy to follow, with close-up shots from different angles to make sure you’re not left behind.
While we would have liked to see an older person doing the routines alongside Dr. Lam, the good news is – they were all low-impact, making them suitable for older adults and people with mobility challenges.
All in all, this DVD is a solid choice for anyone looking to dip their toes into the wonderful world of Tai Chi. It was better than some of the online Tai Chi lessons we’ve tried in the past.
- Dr. Paul Lam (Actor)
- Dr Paul Lam (Director)
- English (Publication Language)
How to Choose the Best Tai Chi DVD for Seniors – Buying Guide
Tai Chi is made up of a series of very specific movements. Each of these movements is referred to as a “form.” The different styles of Tai Chi that exist emphasize a specific form. This is what makes each of them unique.
A major part of choosing the right Tai Chi style for you – which is what you would find in a specific DVD – has to do with identifying what your end goal is and your current physical ability.
First, we’ll explore the five main Tai Chi styles that exist and then look at which style would be best suited for you or your loved one.
This is the oldest style of Tai Chi. It draws its origins in China’s Henan province, dating back to the 16th century. It was named after the Chen family, who had started practicing their own unique style of martial art at the time. The other four styles are all derivatives of Chen.
Chen Tai Chi is characterized by powerful, explosive movements that incorporate strikes, kicks, and jumps. They alternate between slow, elegant motions before progressing into fast, forceful movements. Over time, these powerful stances enhance agility and strength, rebuilding the body’s balance. It is also a great form of cardio if you want something that will get your heart rate up.
This style is named after its founder – Yang Lu-ch’an, who developed it from Chen Tai Chi in 1850. Yang uses slow, graceful, exaggerated Tai Chi moves designed to expand and contract the body, therefore, increasing flexibility. It is essentially a toned-down version of Chen with less athletic movements overall.
The founder of this style of Tai Chi was Wu Ch’uan-yu – a military officer cadet who was trained by Yang Lu-ch’an. While Wu is also focused on motions that increase the body’s flexibility, this style of Tai Chi lays emphasis on leaning forward and backward, as opposed to remaining in an upright stance. Wu Tai Chi also focuses on a smaller, more compact medium stance compared to Yang.
This style was founded by Sun Lutang – a well-known expert in Baguazhang and Xingyiquan styles of martial art. They are both similar to Tai Chi since they use the same principles that emphasize the use of the mind in the movement of the body.
Sun integrated different elements from Tai Chi and various martial art forms. His style combines Bagua’s strides (from Baguazhang) and Hsing-l’s waist and leg motions (from Xingyiquan) with Tai Chi’s relaxed movements. The result: Gentle, flowing motions.
The circular, gentle hand movements and the unique legwork synonymous with this style of Tai Chi resemble a slow, graceful dance with its quick, flowing motions. It is a hit among seniors.
This style of Tai Chi isn’t as popular as the other four. It mainly focuses on qi (pronounced “chi”) which means “internal force.” It involves deep concentration to make internal movements, which, in turn, translate to subtle external motions. From the outside, these movements may appear quite similar.
Hao is an extremely advanced style of Tai Chi and is not recommended for beginners. It is mainly focused on the regulation of qi, which takes several years of consistent practice to master.
How to Choose the Best Style of Tai Chi
With that brief background, here are the two main things to keep in mind when picking the right Tai Chi style for you or your loved one.
- For senior citizens aged 55 and above who are generally in good physical form, Chen Tai Chi would be a great style to adapt. It is beginner-friendly and easy to learn.
- For senior citizens recovering from a physical injury, Yang and Sun would be the best Tai Chi styles to adapt. The stances are easy to learn and put the least amount of strain on muscles and joints. They both enhance flexibility, balance, and strength, all of which support the body’s natural healing process.
Qigong is also great for older individuals, although strictly speaking, it isn’t a type of Tai Chi per se. While the latter comprises a series of movements that flow in sequence targeting the entire body, Qigong can be thought of as a single movement designed to work a specific part of the body.
For instance, if you’re feeling tight around your chest, your instructor might teach you a specific Qigong exercise to help open up your lungs. You would then repeat this move until you start to feel the benefits coming through.
Which is better for seniors, Tai Chi or Yoga?
Tai Chi focuses on movement. Yoga focuses on holding static poses for a specific duration. Exercises that promote movement are better for seniors, especially those who suffer from age-related muscle loss and are, therefore, unable to stay in one position for long. In this case, Yoga may not be ideal for them. Tai Chi enhances balance, flexibility, and muscle and joint strength. It is also better than Pilates for older adults.
How many times per week should you do Tai Chi?
Health experts recommend three to four Tai Chi sessions per week for seniors aged 55 and over who are in relatively good physical health. For individuals recovering from a physical injury, one or two sessions of gentle Tai Chi each week should suffice.
How long should a single Tai Chi session for seniors be?
With Tai Chi, the idea is to start slow and gradually build up over the course of several weeks to at least 60 minutes per session. You can aim for 15 minutes when you first start and increase the duration by 5 minutes every week until you hit the 1-hour mark.
As a senior citizen, one of the best gifts you can give yourself is the gift of mobility. Tai Chi helps you stay active while improving strength, stability, flexibility, and balance. It also has proven health benefits in individuals with Parkinson’s disease, fibromyalgia, chronic back pain, arthritis, and heart disease. Not sure where to start? Any of the Tai Chi instruction DVDs we’ve reviewed in this guide would be a great starting point. Gift your loved one today.