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Improve health through Ai Chi water exercises

Eunice Walker feels strong. Her aches and pains have reduced, her balance is good and her blood pressure is down. Ai Chi – a water exercise program similar to Tai Chi – has made a huge difference to Ms Walker's health.
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Villa Maria’s Ai Chi exercise classes are providing great health benefits to participants, including Eunice Walker (back right), Pat Little (front left) and Noel Neubecker (front right).

She has been attending Victorian aged and disability care provider, Villa Maria’s, Ai Chi classes at the Knox Leisure Centre’s warm water pool for the past year and says she wouldn’t miss a session.

“The improvement in my legs, which I was having problems with, has been so beneficial,” Ms Walker says. “You can relax in the water and the water does the work for you,” she adds.

According to Ms Walker, it has been beneficial to her strength and wellbeing.

“You feel so much better, the aches and pains go away.  I’m not feeling the cold nearly as much since I started doing this, and my blood pressure has been normal for about 18 months,” she says.

Villa Maria’s Rehabilitation and Wellbeing Centre offers the Ai Chi classes on Thursday mornings with qualified physiotherapists.

Physiotherapist, Judy Hodgson, says Ai Chi was developed in Japan and is a holistic approach to health that focuses on breathing, upper limb movements, core stability, lower limb movement, balance and coordinated total body movements.

Known benefits of Ai Chi include increased flexibility, balance, core strength, blood circulation and metabolism and can help with conditions such as acute pain, back pain, arthritis, fibromyalgia, stress, depression and neurological conditions.

The flowing, graceful movements are all done to a soothing soundtrack that brings peace and quiet over the entire warm water pool.

The next eight week course begins on 31 July and places are still available.

Pat Little also took up Ai Chi to help maintain her strength.

“It’s made such a difference in getting me more mobile,” she says. “It just makes you freer, when you don’t do the exercise you tighten up like crazy. I wouldn’t miss it.”

Noel Neubecker is also a long time Ai Chi class member and says it’s a great way for him to get exercise in a gentle way.

“I’ve got a hip problem and arthritis in my knees – I think it’s helping with that,” he says.

Even when it’s wet and cold outside, the participants say there’s nothing like getting into the warm water pool.

Classes run from 11:15am to 12pm for eight weeks. Cost is $80. To book your place in the next Ai Chi course, contact Villa Maria’s Rehabilitation and Wellbeing Centre on (03) 9800 7255.

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