relaxed woman with dog practicing yoga in cobra pose at home

Mind-body movement offers the ultimate two-for-one combo: As you work on your physical health, strengthening your muscles and balancing out your body, you also nourish your mind in a major way. Two of the most powerful and ancient mind-body practices out there—tai chi and yoga—have become beloved across the globe in recent decades.

Both modalities challenge and ground you both physically and mentally by incorporating various postures and movements and connecting you to your body and breath.

However, though tai chi and yoga offer many similar benefits (science-backed benefits, might I add), they have different origins, histories, and styles.

Whether you ultimately opt for tai chi vs. yoga depends entirely on personal preference (though you can totally do both!), but there are a few things to know about what to expect in a class.

Ready to feel strong in all the ways? Use this guide to get familiar with tai chi and yoga’s rich roots, what each practice looks like in real-time, and how to get started.

The Origins Of Yoga And Tai Chi

Though yoga and tai chi have unique histories and roots, both have existed for centuries and originated in Asia.

Before yoga spread across the globe and became the popular physical and mental practice that it is today, it began about 5,000 years ago as an Indian philosophy; a way to connect with divine spirits, says Kelly Turner, RYT, director of education for YogaSix. “It was more about meditation and concentration—and moving toward a place where a person could overcome the burdens of being human and find liberation and enlightenment,” she explains.

In fact, it wasn’t until the 1900s that the physical aspect of yoga became more prominent in India. “The physical postures were designed to help people sit more comfortably in meditation,” Turner says. Eventually, a few key yogis led the charge in creating the yoga practices that we know in the Western world. Today, there are a number of different styles of yoga students may practice, from invigorating vinyasa to quiet restorative yoga.

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Tai chi, meanwhile, dates back to about the 1600s and originated in the villages of China, says Shifu Pam Dye, instructor at Forever Tai Chi in New York. As with yoga, several styles of tai chi have evolved throughout its existence, including Yang, Sun, and Chen. (Chen, which is considered the original style, was created by Chen Wangting.) The practice spread from China to the U.S. in the 1950s.

Also like yoga, tai chi incorporates mental and physical practices. However, tai chi’s roots lie in martial arts. “Each posture you see people doing has a martial art or self-defense application to it,” she says. “It may look like gentle movements with names that come from animals or nature—but if someone comes at you with a punch or grabs you from behind, you can use the postures to defend yourself.”

Still, much of tai chi’s focus is on creating harmony and balance of your mind, body, and spirit—and letting go of unnecessary tension, adds Margaret Matsumoto, director of teacher training at the Tai Chi Foundation.

Tai Chi vs. Yoga: What Each Physical Practice Looks Like

Both yoga and tai chi have several different specific types of practices under their main mind-body umbrellas. Some—like Ashtanga or power yoga and Chen-style tai chi—are more intense, while others—like yin or restorative yoga and qigong, which is a collection of separate basic movements instead of one long sequence of flowing moves, according to Matsumoto—are more low-key.

Regardless of the unique style you practice, though, both yoga and tai chi involve a series of poses. In a class, your instructor will guide you into and through each pose and offer tips on proper posture and alignment, according to Dye.

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Whether you pause in a particular pose for several breaths (or even minutes) or continuously flow from one to the next, depends on the style, says Dye. She refers to dynamic tai chi as “meditation in motion.”

That said, while some yoga instructors may focus on specific areas of the body (like shoulders and hips), tai chi takes a more holistic approach. “Tai chi is interested in integrated movements, so the whole body operates as one,” Matsumoto says. “Rather than working the body like a machine, tai chi works to relax unnecessary tensions within it.” So, while tai chi is rarely (if ever) practiced on the floor, certain yoga poses—like bridge and savasana—take place on the mat.

Tai chi also stands out from yoga because of its martial arts and self-defense element, which becomes more prominent as you to get into more advanced classes, says Dye.

However, despite their physical differences, both yoga and tai chi involve a focus on your breath. You’ll do mostly deep, diaphragmatic breathing in tai chi, but you might do different types of breathing techniques in yoga, Dye says. Kundalini yoga, for example, incorporates different types of breathing techniques to help you shift out of “fight-or-flight” mode and into a more restful state, Turner explains.

The Benefits of Tai Chi vs. Yoga—****And How They Compare

To date, there’s more in-depth research on yoga than there is on tai chi. Still, both have some science to back up their benefits.

Research has found that yoga, for example, may help with stress, depression, and anxiety, while protecting brain function and potentially decreasing inflammation in the body.

Studies suggest that tai chi, meanwhile, can help healthcare workers manage stress, while helping college students relax and sleep better. Research also backs up that tai chi can improve the health outcomes of those with underlying health issues like heart disease and arthritis.


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Meanwhile, other research shows that both practices may help with pain management. Both yoga and tai chi also improve your balance, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.

Keep in mind, though, Dye says you have to be in the right state of mind to reap the benefits of these practices. “You have to be relaxed,” she says. “If you’re not fully relaxed, you’re not going to get the full benefits of stress reduction and flexibility. You may feel the physical part, but if you’re not fully relaxed, you’re not going to get the mind part.”

Tai Chi vs. Yoga: Which Is Right For You? Here’s How To Decide

Thanks to the postures involved in both practices, both tai chi and yoga will help you strengthen your muscles and improve mobility. If your goal is to support your overall fitness, try taking both a yoga and a tai chi class to see which you like better. Lots of people take interest in tai chi classes for better overall health, Dye says. It also appeals to athletes who want better full-body awareness and to move more efficiently, Matsumoto adds.

One caveat: Since yoga often involves holding various deep stretches for longer, it should be your go-to if flexibility is top-priority, says Turner.

When it comes to stress relief, both practices are equally awesome. Yoga and tai chi both have strong mental components, so you really can’t go wrong with either.

And for those seeking weight loss? There is some research on yoga’s effect on body composition, with at least one systematic review and meta-analysis suggesting it can help reduce body mass index in overweight and obese individuals. That said, you might want to opt for a power yoga or vinyasa class, which will be more rigorous. If you’re more interested in tai chi, a Chen-style class, which may include some explosive movements like jumps and kicks, is the way to go.

If you’re having trouble deciding which to try, Turner suggests chatting with studio staff or instructors to figure out the different types of classes they offer and what you should know ahead of time. Then, try out different instructors and styles to get a feel for what you like. “There are so many ways to customize your experience,” she says.

The bottom line: No matter what your fitness and mindfulness goals look like, yoga and tai chi both provide a pretty powerful opportunity to bring them together. Ultimately, whatever practice keeps you coming back for more mind-body movement is the best option for you.

MALLORY CREVELING Senior Health and Fitness EditorMallory Creveling, an ACE-certified personal trainer and RRCA-certified run coach, joined the Runner’s World and Bicycling team in August 2021.

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You likely know the familiar expression, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”

While the phrase was first coined in 1913, it was based on a Pembrokeshire proverb that originated in 1866.

In fact, Notes and Queries magazine was the first to publish the original quote: “Eat an apple on going to bed, and you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread.”

Although research shows that eating more apples may not actually be associated with fewer visits to the doctor, adding apples to your diet can help improve several aspects of your health (1Trusted SourceTrusted Source).

This article takes a closer look at whether eating an apple a day can truly help keep the doctor away.

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Health benefits

Apples have been associated with a number of benefits that could help promote long-term health.

Highly nutritious

Apples are loaded with important nutrients, including fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

One medium apple provides the following nutrients (2Trusted Source):

  • Calories: 95
  • Carbs: 25 grams
  • Fiber: 4.5 grams
  • Vitamin C: 9% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Copper: 5% of the DV
  • Potassium: 4% of the DV
  • Vitamin K: 3% of the DV

In particular, vitamin C acts as an antioxidant to neutralize harmful compounds known as free radicals and protects against disease (3Trusted Source).

Apples are also a great source of antioxidants like quercetin, caffeic acid, and epicatechin (4Trusted Source).

Supports heart health

Studies show that eating more apples could be associated with a lower risk of several chronic conditions, including heart disease (5Trusted Source).

In fact, one study in over 20,000 adults found that consuming higher amounts of white-fleshed fruits and vegetables, including apples, was linked to a lower risk of stroke (6Trusted Source).

This may be due to the presence of flavonoids found in apples, which are compounds that have been shown to reduce inflammation and protect heart health (7Trusted Source, 8Trusted Source).

Apples are also loaded with soluble fiber, which may help reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels, both of which are risk factors for heart disease (9Trusted Source).

Contains cancer-fighting compounds

Apples contain several compounds that may help prevent cancer formation, including antioxidants and flavonoids (10Trusted Source).

According to one review of 41 studies, consuming a higher amount of apples was associated with a decreased risk of developing lung cancer (11Trusted Source).

Another study observed similar findings, reporting that eating more apples was tied to a lower risk of colorectal cancer (12Trusted Source).

Other research suggests that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables could protect against cancer of the stomach, colon, lungs, oral cavity, and esophagus (13Trusted Source).

However, more research is needed to evaluate the potential anticancer effects of apples and determine whether other factors may be involved.

Other health benefits

Apples have also been linked to several other health benefits that could help keep the doctor away:

  • Support weight loss. Due to their fiber content, apples have been shown to promote feelings of fullness, decrease calorie intake, and increase weight loss (14Trusted Source, 15Trusted Source).
  • Improve bone health. Human, animal, and test-tube studies have found that eating a higher amount of fruit could be associated with increased bone mineral density and a lower risk of osteoporosis (16Trusted Source, 17Trusted Source).
  • Promote brain function. Animal studies suggest that eating apples could help reduce oxidative stress, prevent mental decline, and slow signs of aging (13Trusted Source).
  • Protect against asthma. Studies show that an increased intake of apples may be linked to a lower risk of asthma (13Trusted Source).
  • Reduce the risk of diabetes. According to one large review, eating one apple per day was tied to a 28% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes, compared with not eating any apples at all (18Trusted Source).


Apples are highly nutritious and have been associated with several health benefits, including improved heart health and a reduced risk of certain types of cancer.

Potential downsides

Eating an apple every day is unlikely to harm your health.

However, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing, and eating multiple apples each day may cause several adverse side effects.

In particular, rapidly increasing your intake of fiber over a short period of time can cause symptoms like gas, bloating, and stomach pain (19Trusted Source).

Like other fruits, apples also contain a good chunk of carbs in each serving (2Trusted Source).

While this is not a problem for most people, those following a low carb or ketogenic diet may need to moderate their intake.


Eating an apple every day is unlikely to negatively affect your health. However, eating excessive amounts of apples every day could contribute to digestive issues.



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Other healthy options

Rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, apples are an excellent addition to the diet and may offer several health benefits.

However, many fruits and vegetables offer a similar set of nutrients and can be equally beneficial for health.

Plus, incorporating a variety of other fruits and vegetables into your routine can add more flavor and nutritional value to your diet.

Here are a few other fruits and vegetables that you can swap in for apples from time to time:

  • bananas
  • blueberries
  • broccoli
  • carrots
  • cauliflower
  • grapefruit
  • kale
  • mango
  • peaches
  • pears
  • pineapples
  • raspberries
  • spinach
  • strawberries
  • tomatoes


Many fruits and vegetables offer a set of nutrients and health benefits that are similar to those of apples, and they can be enjoyed as part of a healthy, balanced diet.

The bottom line

Although eating more apples may not literally be associated with fewer visits to the doctor, apples are rich in nutrients and offer several benefits for disease prevention and long-term health.

In addition to apples, many other fruits and vegetables provide a similar set of nutrients and health benefits.

For best results, enjoy a variety of fruits and vegetables as part of a nutritious, well-rounded diet.