It improves balance without walking on a wooden bar.
It’s easy to learn and helps senior citizens avoid falls.
It’s Tai Chi and Plattsmouth area residents can enjoy its exercises through Comper Care Outpatient Center in Plattsmouth.
Introduced at Comper Care in August 2016, Physical Therapist Kris Lausterer teaches the classes starting at 4:30 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday at the center, 205 S. 23rd St., Suite 1, just off of Highway 75.
“Dr. Mary Gallagher-Jansen at UNMC in Plattsmouth requested the classes. There wasn’t a regular Tai Chi program here, but there is a lot of evidence that shows it can decrease falling and improve balance. A lot of doctors like it because it decreases the falls among senior citizens, which often lead to fractures,” Lausterer said.
Lausterer earned certification in Tai Chi for balance through the Friendship Program in Omaha. “Tai Chi for balance has been around 16-17 years through the Friendship Program. They initially received a federal grant to get people trained as instructors in Tai Chi,” he said.
There are several forms of Tai Chi. “The kind we practice is called Yang Tai Chi. It’s an ancient form of exercise practiced in China for thousands of years,” Lausterer said.
U.S. was slower than China to realize the benefits of Tai Chi in comparison. “In the last 20-30 years there has been research in the United States showing Tai Chi does decrease falls, improves balance and strength and that it’s not only for the elderly,” Lausterer said.
Tai Chi is a gentle and slow form of exercise. “The U.S. government jumped on it and had been a proponent in funding classes. If they can keep people healthy and keep people from falling, it will enhance lives and save money,” he said.
In the Tai Chi for balance classes, Lausterer teaches his students the eight forms/movements involved.
These movements have Chinese labels and include Hold the Ball, Part the Wild Horse’s Man, Single Whip, Wave Hands Like Clouds, Repulse the Monkey, Brush Knees, Bare Lady Works at Shuttles and Grasp the Peacock Tail.
“The movements are practiced repetitively that challenge balance and strength. We do it for 45 minutes twice a week,” he said.
Southeast Community College is offering the classes through Comper Care.
People who are interested in taking Tai Chi can enroll at any time. They don’t have to wait until a new session of classes begins.
“You can join at any time because it’s easy to learn. We offer the first class free so people can see if they like it,” Lausterer said.
Comper Care charges $40 for 12 classes. Students should wear comfortable clothes for the workouts.
“The thing to remember is that the benefits of Tai Chi are evidence based. That’s why all the doctors are jumping on it,” he said.
Lausterer said he helped Waterford at Woodbridge start its own Tai Chi classes. “They have a weekly exercise class. Their activities director, Michael Levermann, has learned Tai Chi and earned her teaching certification in it.
“Some of their residents do it while sitting. Here we all stand,” Lausterer said.