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LifeStyle with Tai Chi and Qigong >> Tai Chi Qigong for Seniors

Sit, Breath, Smile

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February 12, 2014 -
Residents in Long-term care facilities often have diverse combinations of cognitive and physical impairments: Alzheimer's disease, dementia and/or symptoms of depression, as well as common chronic illnesses and/or physical ailments such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, diabetes and/or high blood pressure (hypertension). The practice of Seated Qigong can eliminate common exercise barriers.

Seated Qigong is a thorough, non-stressful and low impact form of exercise where participants follow the direction of a trained Qigong teacher, and is commonly and easily performed in group settings. This form of Qigong practice eliminates balance, memory and fatigue issues, thus accommodating a wide range of special needs, while stimulating the mind and body in a socially supportive environment.

The University of Windsor in Ontario, Canada conducted investigation to better understand the effects of Seated Qigong in a diverse yet representative group of individuals living in long-term care. Specifically, the research team aimed to test the prospective hypotheses that: 1) a single Seated Qigong session would lower blood pressure and improve quality of life immediately post-exercise in older adults living in long-term care , and 2) the acute (immediately post-session) blood pressure response would be attenuated with 10-weeks of once weekly Seated Qigong sessions.

Sixteen participants were recruited from a residential, long-term care facility in Windsor, Ontario, Canada.

Participants then completed one Seated Qigong session per week for 10-weeks. In an effort to reduce the stress associated with learning new tasks and to help participants relax while exercising, the Seated Qigong teacher consistently encouraged them to "breathe and smile". This smiling aspect was further emphasized by the Seated Qigong teacher telling amusing stories and singing while leading the class through the Qigong sessions. 

Blood pressure and quality-of-life were assessed pre- and post-session at baseline and following 5- and 10-weeks of Qigong. Systolic blood pressure was significantly reduced immediately post-session after 10-weeks of Qigong, yet unchanged at baseline and after 5-weeks. Diastolic blood pressure and quality-of-life remained unchanged.

A session of Seated Qigong elicits a hypotensive response with exposure, supporting the notion that repeated sessions may provide advantageous health benefits. Repeated practice of once weekly Seated Qigong appears to be a novel intervention for acute systolic blood pressure reduction. 

The study is published by the journal Complementary therapies in clinical practice in February, 2014.




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