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Qigong Benefits for those Over 50

Back in December of 2021 two interesting articles on qigong crossed my screen.

The first is an article entitled Over 50 weight loss: Tai chi [substiture the practice of Qigong for Tai Chi] or yoga could be as effective as jogging published by Fit & Well, reports on a study of "Researchers from several Chinese Universities and the University of California looked at tai chi as an example of slow, mindful exercise. A total of 543 participants, all over 50 were randomly assigned to a control group with no exercise, a group performing conventional aerobic exercise and strength training, and a tai chi group. At the end of the 12 weeks, the researchers found the tai chi group reduced their total waist circumference by 1.8cm, more than the traditional exercisers, who achieved an average reduction of 1.3cm.

This might be attributed to tai chi's calming effect, as well as the flowing movements: the relaxation brought on by the therapeutic exercise lowers the production of the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol activates our body's "fight-or-flight" responses, which also helps us store fat. Imagine if we're cavemen in life-or-death situations – in stressful situations, you need fat reserves to continually provide energy. Less cortisol means less weight gain.

Of course, tai chi is just one example of this kind of slow, mindful, low-intensity exercise perfect for over 50s: certain styles of yoga can also offer this benefit, as can meditation – as little as ten minutes of mindfulness, performed at any time of day, can reduce our cortisol levels, boosting our mood and reducing our waistlines."

The second article from First for Women is titled This Gentle, Meditative Exercise Helped Cure One Woman’s Autoimmune Disease. It summarized the article as follows: "When Fran German was diagnosed with an incurable muscle condition that caused exhaustion, weakness, and pain, her future looked bleak. Then, she discovered a gentle form of exercise that restored her strength – qigong."

It goes on to state that "The slow, continuous movements of qigong increase muscle strength, reduce muscle fatigue and curb stress, says Anna Rostedt Punga, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of clinical neurophysiology at Uppsala University in Sweden and a leading researcher on the muscle condition myasthenia gravis (MG). She adds that the exercise is perfect for patients with muscle weakness and pain who can’t do more intense workouts because it uses low resistance, slow movement, and breathing techniques to build flexibility and endurance.

The payoff? Her studies have shown that gentle exercise helps MG patients significantly improve muscle strength and function, including better balance — perks that anyone practicing qigong can expect. Plus, “The focus on breathing can lower mental stress to increase overall well-being,” says Dr. Rostedt Punga. To get the benefits, find a qigong class in your area."

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