Today, in part five on our series about Qigong and its healing powers, we focus on two very important and very serious issues. One is dementia, a rising problem in an aging society. And the other is something we all strive for, which disease can get in the way of: a good quality of life.
First, let’s look at dementia.
One health breakthrough found that mixing tai chi (a Chinese martial similar to Qigong) with cognitive therapy and support groups could stave off mental decline in patients with dementia. Those with early-stage dementia could slow their physical, mental and psychological decline with a program that blends counseling with Qigong. Some of the benefits, in fact, are comparable to prescription drugs for dementia.
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In the study, 24 people with early-stage dementia participated in an intensive 40-week program. It included biweekly sessions of cognitive behavioral therapy and support groups, along with three sessions per week of traditional Chinese martial arts exercises and meditation. These were, namely, Qigong and tai chi. To compare, another group of people did not participate for the first 20 weeks.
After 20 weeks, those in the Qigong group improved in several measures of physical function, including balance and lower leg strength, while those in the comparison group did not. Also, they reported significant gains in self-esteem, while those without treatment had severe declines in self-esteem. What’s more is that the treated patients had slightly improved scores on mental tests, meaning that cognitive function was improved. These patients experienced less depression than those untreated.
At 40 weeks, these advances were all sustained. The people who participated (and their loved ones) were very happy with it. It proved popular, the joining of ancient Chinese exercise and behavioral therapy. The program proved so popular that the researchers kept it going for three years longer than planned. They have since seen remarkable improvements in their patients.
Now, about that quality of life…
In Taiwan, there is a popular form of Qigong called “Waitankung.” A new study compared the health-related quality of life between 160 people who practiced this and 660 fellow community residents who did not. Questionnaires were used to gather information about health-related quality of life and other basic and health conditions.
The results: compared with either sedentary people or those doing other types of exercise, the Waitankung group scored higher in measurements for quality of life. Compared to sedentary people, Waitankung scored better in eight of 10 levels. Against other forms of exercise, it scored better in five out of 10. For the latter, the Waitankung group scored better in general health, vitality, and physical component summary compared to individuals participating in other types of exercise. This is interesting, as those doing exercise would have been expending far more energy than the slow and peaceful Qigong.
The researchers concluded that Waitankung is significantly associated with health-related quality of life. “Waitankung may serve as an exercise choice for middle-aged and older people to improve overall quality of life.”