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Tai Chi allows for peaceful exercise

Saturday - 4/28/2012, 12:10pm  ET

WASHINGTON - When people think of exercising, images of lifting weights, biking, swimming and running often come to mind.

But there is a different form of exercise growing in popularity.

Tai Chi is quiet, meditative and good for the soul.

"This works on the inside," said Fairfax Hackley, a personal trainer.

Hackley said Tai Chi doesn't help build muscle, but the benefits are enormous.

"It calms you down and it really helps you focus," he said.

Tai Chi is sometimes called meditation in motion. Originally developed in China as a form of martial arts for self-defense, it has evolved into a graceful series of movements for exercise.

"Pretty much anyone can learn how to use it and do it, because all it takes is a bunch of practice," Hackley said. "It really makes you focus and slow down your movements."

Unlike running and weight-lifting, he said tai chi works internally and provides different benefits - things like improved balance, coordination and stress reduction.

There are numerous postures and forms of Tai Chi. The newest: a 12-posture Tai Chi program for the disabled that can be performed in a wheelchair.

There are videos available, as well as classes offered locally.

WTOP's Paula Wolfson contributed to this report.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)