MU Extension offers Tai Chi for Arthritis and Health classes online and in-person during COVID-19 public health precautions.

For the first time, the University of Missouri Extension is offering Tai Chi online alongside their in-person classes. Tai Chi instruction has been offered face to face in the region for the past year, with the next class enrolling now for July 6 at The Centre in Rolla. 

“The addition of online classes allows members of the public with higher risks for COVID- 19 to participate in the physical, mental and social benefits of Tai Chi from the safety of their homes,” says instructor Rachel Buenemann.

Online students connect with three live instructors twice a week, using the video meeting platform Zoom. Each of 16 sessions includes one on one coaching and detailed instruction.

“Tai Chi is a growing subject of research internationally, with benefits including arthritic pain reduction, decreased blood pressure, improved stress levels, and decreased injuries from falls, Buenemann says. “Eighty-nine percent of Phelps County participants increased flexibility and lower body strength after 8 weeks compared to a pre-class assessment. All participants improved balance as measured by timed postures.” 

Buenemann reports an average of 32.4% of Missouri adults over 65 years fall each year, 12.9% of those who fall also sustain an injury, according to data published by the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System in 2014. The high fall and injury rates among men and women over the age of 65 in Missouri prompted MU Extension to begin community instruction of Tai Chi last year. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends Tai Chi for balance enhancement.

Those graduating from a previous St. James class report the class has created many positive benefits, according to Buenemann.

“I am 80 years old, and I do have arthritis, but these classes have been great,” says Sally Carpenter, of St. James. “I was finding myself starting to slouch but now I stand up straight. I feel more flexible too and am able to keep mowing my five acres and work in my vegetable garden.”

Buenemann said the cost to join the 16 week course is $50. The online course begins  June 29 and meets at 11 a.m. Monday and Wednesday. The in-person course begins  July 6 and meets at 8:30 am. The sessions are open to all ages and ability levels. For more information call the Phelps County Extension Center at 573-458-6260. Register at https://extension2.missouri.edu/events/tai-chi-for-arthritis