The U.S. Patent Office awarded a patent to two UT Tyler professors for their design of a small workout ball to be used while doing Tai Chi.
“Research in sports medicine said that people should do strength training,” Dr. Yong Tai Wang, co-creator of the Tai Chi ball and Dean and Mathis Chair Professor at the University of Texas at Tyler, said. “So even 80 years old people should do strength training since is like, you use it or you lose it.”
Dr. Wang said the ball adds an element of strength training to your Tai Chi workout that can help with mobility and flexibility.
“Increase your balance, increase the flexibility, also improve cardiovascular function if you do it for certain, if you can increase the intensity of the exercise,” Dr. Wang said.
Tai Chi is a Chinese martial art, that incorporates a series of slow controlled movements. Dr. Wang has been studying tai chi and its benefits for 20 years and says practicing the art form is great for people of all ages regardless or your mobility.
“With quadriplegic people they have very limited movement for upper extremities. So after six months or longer, so they find by themselves they say, ‘Dr. Wang you can see, I can move my arms more, I can stretch more like this, you know something, we find some amazing results and people love it,'” Dr. Wang said.
Dr. Wang says the martial art is also great for the elderly and people trying to increase their cardiovascular health.
“We did a pilot study, just a few people used this ball to perform in a seated position, perform exercise for 20 minutes, then without the bar the same person,” Dr. Wang said. “So we find that heart rate increased significantly, we find oxygen consumption increased significantly, which means you burn more calories.”
The ball fits in your hand and has a hole where you can add more weight so you can change up your workouts as needed. It is not in stores just yet but the professors are looking for someone to mass produce them.