Older Adults Benefit from Chinese Exercise

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"Traditional Tai Chi training includes Qigong, but most contemporary Tai Chi researchers have omitted Qigong from their research," said kinesiology professor Yang Yang at the University of Illinois. "As a result, previous researchers may not have documented all of the health benefits possible from traditional Tai Chi training."

Yang, a Tai Chi master with three decades of experience, said Tai Chi and Qigong are relatively simple, safe and inexpensive, and require no props or special equipment, making them easily adaptable for practice by healthy senior citizens.

In two studies – one quantitative, one qualitative – Yang found that healthy seniors who practiced a combination of Qigong and Tai Chi three times a week for six months experienced significant physical benefits after only two months.

Not only did participants demonstrate noticeable improvements in laboratory-controlled tests designed to measure balance, lower body strength and stance width, a subset of participants who contributed responses in the qualitative study provided dramatic evidence of how Tai Chi and Qigong practice had also enhanced their lives from a mental, emotional and spiritual perspective.

Other evidence pointed to improvements in sleep quality, concentration, memory, self-esteem and overall energy levels. Other positive statements by participants regarding how they generally felt better mentally and physically:

The quantitative study included 39 participants and a control group of 29; the average age of participants was 80. Each was given a battery of physical performance tests in the beginning as a baseline, then again after two-month and six-month intervals. The smaller qualitative study consisted of in-depth interviews with four of the exercise participants.

Yang states that the quantitative study is the first to employ a randomised control trial designed with testers blind to group allocation and to combine laboratory platform balance measures with multiple measures of functional balance and physical performance.

MEDICA.de; Source: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign