What do you define as exercise? Most people’s responses would include running, cycling, team sports or weight lifting. However, what if an ancient exercise regimen can give you many of the same health benefits?
That exercise is Qigong, which has deep roots in Chinese history. This regimen involves physical postures, breathing techniques and focused intention. The exercises are designed to activate the Qi (chee), which is the life force. The second part of the name – Gong (pronounced gung) – means the skill that is cultivated through regular practice. The exercises can be seen as martial, medical or spiritual and take many forms of Qigong, including Tai Chi and Kung Fu.
What Qigong Does for the Bod regular Qigong practice offers numerous health benefits, which include:
Balance – Qigong may help people maintain their balance and improve strength and flexibility, thus lowering the risk of falls.
Functional fitness – Qigong helps improve functional fitness so people can perform a wide range of daily activities. Areas of improvement can include getting up from a chair, walking 50 feet, gait speed, muscle strength hand grip and flexibility.
Mental health – Researchers believe that this form of exercise can ease anxiety, stress and depression.
Bone health – Studies indicate that Qigong benefits bone health, even in women who have gone through the menopausal transition. Some researchers found that bone mineral density increased in women who were doing Qigong when compared to a control group of women who were not exercising.
Heart and lungs – Studies also suggest that Qigong supports cardiovascular and pulmonary health. Researchers consistently found that people who did Qigong reduced their blood pressure. Additionally, the biomarkers indicating heart health improved through a regular Qigong practice.
Immunity and inflammation – Doing Qigong regularly was found by researchers to improve immunity while decreasing inflammation.
Quality of life – Many studies indicate that Qigong has a great potential for improving the quality of life, which includes perceived physical health, psychological state, personal beliefs and social relationships for both healthy and chronically ill people.
Self-efficacy- Qigong helps bolster a person’s confidence and belief that he or she can overcome barriers. This trait is linked with health behaviors as well as psychological health.
These benefits underscore why Qigong can serve as an excellent foundational exercise program. The physical, mental and emotional rewards can be reaped at any age – and this exercise has long-term benefits that can help individuals age with grace and dignity.
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Primary Sources for This Sharepost:
Jahnke, R., et al. (2010). A Comprehensive Review of Health Benefits of Qigong and Tai Chi. American Journal of Health Promotion.
National Qigong Association. (ND). What Is Qigong?
Dorian Martin writes about various topics for HealthCentral, including Alzheimer’s disease, diet/exercise, menopause and lung cancer. Dorian is a health and caregiving advocate living in College Station, TX. She has a Ph.D. in educational human resource development. Dorian also founded I Start Wondering, which encourages people to embrace a life-long learning approach to aging. She teaches Sheng Zhen Gong, a form of Qigong. Follow Dorian on Twitter at @dorianmartin, Facebook or Instagram at @doriannmartin.