Hong Kong Has the Highest Life Expectancy in the World. This Exercise Might Be the Reason Why

Did you know that Hong Kong doesn’t only lead the way in skyscrapers, but also has the highest life expectancy int he world, with men living up till 81.3 years and women even longer, 87.3 years. But, that might make you wonder – what made this come about?

The streets are safe, and there is easy access to public transport, healthy food and public amenities, “enabling” people to live a healthier lifestyle. But is that it?

And while everywhere you look in Hong Kong, you’ll find green patches, what you’ll also find are dedicated garden spaces for Tai Chi. Tai Chi is a centuries old martial art, that people of all ages and walks of life practice in Hong Kong. People think that tai chi is just soft. But it’s all things – gentle, explosive, delicate, calm and full of wisdom,” said Master Chow, a Tai Chi teacher in Hong Kong. “There are 1,000 words to define it, but there are no words to fully describe it.”

Tai chi is often described as “meditation in motion,” but it might well be called “medication in motion.” There is growing evidence that this mind-body practice, which originated in China as a martial art, has value in treating or preventing many health problems. And you can get started even if you aren’t in top shape or the best of health.

In this low-impact, slow-motion exercise, you go without pausing through a series of motions named for animal actions — for example, “white crane spreads its wings” — or martial arts moves, such as “box both ears.” As you move, you breathe deeply and naturally, focusing your attention — as in some kinds of meditation — on your bodily sensations. Tai chi differs from other types of exercise in several respects. The movements are usually circular and never forced, the muscles are relaxed rather than tensed, the joints are not fully extended or bent, and connective tissues are not stretched. Tai chi can be easily adapted for anyone, from the most fit to people confined to wheelchairs or recovering from surgery.

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Some experts point to the health benefits of tai chi as a reason lifespan has increased in Hong Kong over the last 50 years. Hong Kong has the highest life expectancy in the world. “Prior study has indicated that this longevity increase is associated with the more active lifestyle of the elderly today,” said Aileen Chan, professor at The Chinese University of Hong Kong, whose research expertise is tai chi. “Tai chi maintains cardiorespiratory function, muscular fitness and joint flexibility. To promote a longer life, it is recommended to practice tai chi regularly for at least 30 minutes a day and at least five times a week, preferably every day.”

While we understand that the exercise alone could not be responsible for the longevity of life in Hong Kong, however, the exercise does help keep the elderly fit and in great shape, which might make it possible for it to fight off greater illnesses and health problems.

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