When done properly Tai Chi is an exercise in mindfulness, allowing the mind and body to work in harmony.
Tai Chi will encourage you to let go of stress, become more aware of your own body, and move your whole body in a more efficient and safe way. Tai Chi could be described as Mindful Movement and the focus of mental attention is as important as the physical aspects.
However, even on a purely physical level there are benefits:
Attention to posture helps breathing and reduces backache
Slow controlled movement increases flexibility and muscle strength.
Focus on transference of weight improves balance
Coordination is improved by practising movements which use the whole body
The breathing exercises of Qigong help improve lung function, increasing energy and reducing stress
The gentle rocking and stretching movements of Qigong improve circulation and aid digestion
Focus on relaxation reduces tension and promotes a feeling of wellbeing
How Can Tai Chi help Arthritis?
A recent study funded by Arthritis Research UK, reported its conclusion in the national news on March 5, 2014, that the pain of arthritis could be relieved in many cases by "mindfulness" techniques, since actual pain levels were often not directly related to physical arthritic damage.
In Tai Chi, the focus of mental attention has always been as important as the physical aspects of the exercise. Tai Chi of any kind can therefore help Arthritis sufferers in two complementary proven ways: Not only is Tai Chi a safe and gentle form of exercise which over time will extend the flexibility of stiff joints, but the mental focus required can act in the same way as "mindfulness" and meditation techniques.
Note however that as with any other exercise, the amount of benefit is directly dependent on the amount of practice done, both physicaly and mentally.