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Raymond Reid, 67, of Portland, Maine, was overweight and suffering from high blood pressure when his doctor told him it was time to get serious about exercising. Reluctant to jump into a vigorous exercise program, Reid instead signed up for a class in T'ai Chi Chih (pronounced tie chee chuh), a mix of meditation and movement that focuses on balance and the circulation of energy known in Chinese philosophy as chi. T'ai Chi Chih is a variation of tai chi but simpler: Tai chi consists of 108 movements, while T'ai Chi Chih has 19 stand-alone movements and one pose. "I loved the simplicity of it," says Reid, a retired pastry chef who is now a certified T'ai Chi Chih instructor. Within six months, Reid lost 38 pounds, normalized his blood pressure, and, with his doctor's blessing, cut his medication in half.
Known to its practitioners as "the effort of no effort," T'ai Chi Chih was developed in 1974 by tai chi master Justin Stone as a gentler form of Tai chi for older students. It's easy to learn and offers benefits beyond fitness: A University of Wisconsin – LaCrosse study found that older adults who practiced T'ai Chi Chih for five weeks experienced less stress and greater well-being.