Why Qi Gong Is a Great Exercise for Seniors
If you enjoy easy forms of fitness that deliver plenty of health benefits, you might want to explore qi gong (pronounced “chee gong”). Qi gong (the “qi” means “life’s vital energy,” while “gong” means “cultivating”) is a system of physical exercise and breathing techniques that was developed in China. Known as a “mindfulness” practice, the techniques involved look similar to tai chi in their slow, meditative style with two key differences — qi gong didn’t arise from martial arts, and it’s considered easier to perform.
Qi gong is rising in popularity with seniors because it’s easy for all fitness levels and requires no equipment. Many of the leading senior living communities, including Crestwood Manor, offer qi gong classes. While qi gong can be done anywhere once you’ve learned the movements from an instructor, there’s much to be said for enjoying this practice with friends, not to mention being part of the beauty these graceful movements produce!
Benefits of Qi Gong
As a safe, easy practice that benefits you inside and out, qi gong can’t be beat. The movements you use involve being mindful of your whole being. They tap into your powers of concentration, posture, and breathing regulation, and have been proven to result in several health benefits.
Among the benefits shown in a study conducted between 1993 and 2007 are:
Improved bone density — The gentle bending in the movements offers weight bearing that’s minimal enough to be safe but very effective.
Improved cardiopulmonary function — Participants showed a reduction in blood pressure and more relaxed breathing as they focused on the movements.
Reduced falls and better balance — Qi gong involves lateral movements that help strengthen our core, which can help promote better balance. Improvements were also seen in strength and flexibility.
Reduced stress — Since qi gong focuses on relaxing the body and mind, it helps seniors to manage stress more effectively. This is especially important at a time in life when older adults deal with more loss and the potential for loneliness in their lives, and may also be dealing with chronic pain and illness.
Better sleep —– Stress is often a root cause of insomnia, and because qi gong focuses on relaxing the body, it can also help improve longer, more restful sleep.
Increases key neurotransmitters — Studies have shown that qi gong can potentially increase levels of certain beneficial neurotransmitters, which may help in the prevention of Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, chronic depression, insomnia, and drug addiction.
A Few Tips Before You Get Started
Qi gong is a safe and beneficial form of exercise, but it’s still recommended you follow a few important rules before you begin this or any form of fitness, including:
- Talk with your doctor, especially if you have issues with dizziness due to medications or inner ear issues, or have been diagnosed with heart disease.
- Rather than attempting qi gong on your own at first, take a class to learn the techniques. You can find classes online, at the gym, or if you live in a senior community like Crestwood Manor, qi gong is always on the schedule!
Be sure to stretch before taking a qi gong class or practicing at home. Older muscles and joints need a little more encouragement to get the maximum benefits and avoid injury.
Discover Your Healthiest Lifestyle Here
At Crestwood Manor, focusing on your well-being and independence is our mission! From our beautifully appointed living options to our robust program of activities to the peace of mind knowing you’re living in a Life Plan Community, you won’t find a better place to call home. Contact us today to learn more about our retirement community in Whiting, NJ!