ARLINGTON, Va. — An exercise that seeks to combine traditional Tai Chi Chuan with sitting has caught on for members of the Fort Benning Soldier Recovery Unit (SRU) in Georgia.
The SRU created the exercise this past fall to help give Soldiers the benefits of regular Tai Chi, even if they cannot stand or lack confidence with their balance to participate in an uncompromised way. Some of these benefits include flexibility, range of motion, strength, energy and pain management.
The adaptive reconditioning team at Fort Benning wanted to introduce Soldiers to a new technique for stress relief. Several Soldiers are facing stressors like dealing with isolation during the pandemic, transitioning out of the Army or preparing to enter a new field. As a result, the SRU added this exercise to the schedule in October and the team has continued to hold weekly classes since then.
Annalise Doyle, recreation therapist at the SRU, is leading this series of meditative classes. She wants the Soldiers to focus on breathing while going through the movements adapted from Tai Chi practices. When done right, the exercise can increase the flexibility of Soldiers while helping them relax.
“I was most surprised by the number of people willing to try it and the number of regulars that we have,” Doyle said. “Additionally, some of the regulars know the choreography of movements and breath work by heart and do it independently on days when we don’t have class. They need to have different healthy avenues to alleviate some of that stress … so they can improve confidence and self-efficacy.”
Though a helpful exercise in nature, it doesn’t come without its hardships. Challenges look different for each person who attends these sessions. For some people, it may be working within a group, while for others, it may be keeping good posture and staying mindful. Yet the many benefits like fat burn, weight loss, increased cognitive awareness and lower cholesterol make the challenges worth the effort.
“That is what is wonderful about this class,” Doyle commented. “It presents different challenges to meet each individual’s needs. We plan to continue having the class weekly.”
The Army Warrior Care and Transition Program is now the Army Recovery Care Program. Although the name has changed, the mission remains the same: to provide quality complex case management to the Army's wounded, ill and injured Soldiers. Visit our website at https://arcp.army.mil