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Extraordinary Trajectory of Health Status among Tai Chi and Qigong Practitioners
April 28, 2012 -
The purpose of this study, performed by Department of Human Development, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, is to examine and compare health status across ages using a volunteer sample of U.S. Tai Chi and Qigong (TQG) practitioners (N=120; age range=24-83, M=54.77) and a nationally representative sample (N=414,629; age range=18-99, M=54.86) collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).


The study design was cross-sectional, between-group comparisons.


An online survey designed to collect data on health-related quality of life (HRQoL), lifestyle variables, and TQG practice regimens was administered to a volunteer sample of taijiquan practitioners. A link to the survey was e-mailed to registrants of the International Tai Chi Symposium who further forwarded (snowballed) the link to other practitioners across the country and around the world. The HRQoL and demographic sections of the survey were adapted from the CDC's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). Taiji practitioner data and BRFSS data were then merged and three groups--No Exercise, Some Exercise, and TQG Exercise--were created for the analysis. Health status was regressed on age, exercise group membership, and the interaction between age and group membership while controlling for income and education.


After controlling for the effects of income and education, a significant interaction effect (p<0.001) was detected between age and group membership. Group membership was not a substantial predictor of health among younger individuals, but among older adults, substantive and significant between-group differences appeared, with the TQG group evincing the best average health trajectory across ages.


Although this cross-sectional comparison cannot establish causality or rule out cohort effects, the extraordinary trajectory of health status among TQG practitioners in this U.S. sample is significantly better than average exercising and non-exercising U.S. Americans, even while controlling for the influence of income and education levels. Lifespan developmental theory is utilized to consider several factors beyond the physical exercise value of TQG that may be responsible for the exercise group differences.

 This article is published by Journal of alternative and complementary medicine in March 2012.




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