Benefits of Chinese Qigong (ba duan jin) gymnastics for senior women’s life quality

Dr.Med. T.A. Shilko1
Postgraduate student Yatsun Zhang1
Zhaoqi Yang2
Qianyu E2
1National Research Tomsk State University, Tomsk
2Shenyang Normal University, Shenyang, China

Keywords: Chinese qigong gymnastics, quality of life, SF-36 questionnaire, senior women, China

Background. The economic growth in China is naturally associated with improvements in the life quality, popularity of healthy lifestyle, extended life expectancy and, hence, growing share of the senior (60+) population group – which is reported at 243 million by the national statistics. The growing numbers of senior people, however, are increasingly burdensome for the national socio-economic progress and social security system. With aging of the population, the Chinese communities are increasingly concerned by the health standards and life quality of the seniors and take efforts to encourage physical activity of this age group. Physical activity of senior people is known to sag with age with the detrimental effects for their health and everyday life quality. It is a common knowledge that habitual physical practices can improve the bodily functionality and thereby slow down the aging processes, prevent common diseases and secure longevity. That is the reason why sports and physical practices are recommended for seniors [1].
Objective of the study was to analyze benefits of Chinese Qigong (Ba Duan Jin) gymnastics for the senior women’s life quality.
Methods and structure of the study. Sampled for the study were the 60-65 years old women (n=60) split up into Experimental and Reference Group of 30 people each. The sampling criteria were as follows: (1) no cardiopulmonary pathology; (2) normal blood glucose rate; 3) normal blood pressure; 4) no disability; and 5) physical inactivity [2]. The quality of life was rated using the SF-36 questionnaire that finds the respondents' experience, feelings, beliefs and their quality of life perceptions. On the whole, SF-36 questionnaire provides a comprehensive health-related quality of life rating toolkit [3].
quality of life of the sample was rated on the following scales: Physical Functionality; Role-specific Functionality; Pain Tolerance; General health (GH); Vitality; Social Functionality; Role-specific Emotionality; Mental Health; Physical Health Component; and Mental Health Component. The EG trained Chinese qigong gymnastics 3 times a week for 10 months (March through December 2018) with assistance of an experienced trainer having a 10-year service record. Each 60-min training session included the following three parts: (1) 10-min warm-up part with the general body conditioning exercises; (2) 40-min main part with the Chinese qigong gymnastics physical and respiratory practices geared to calm down thoughts, relax muscles and ease stress and thereby improve wellbeing and health; and (3) 10-min final part with relaxation practices. The heart rate was kept under 150 beats/ min during the Chinese qigong gymnastics session. The RG was trained under a different self-reliant program.
Results and discussion. It should be emphasized that Chinese qigong gymnastics is ranked among the most popular sporting systems in China due to its proven health benefits for every population group, particularly for senior people. Presently the Chinese statistics report more than 10,000 Qigong practicing organizations with the habitual Chinese qigong gymnastics practicing population estimated at more than 100 million. Qigong Ba Duan Jin courses are formal in many Chinese schools and colleges as they are regarded highly beneficial for the students’ health. Qigong may be defined as the traditional Chinese gymnastics system that may be easily mastered by both young and senior individuals. The traditional Chinese qigong gymnastics versions are widely popular in China due to their health improvement aspects. The pre-experimental/ entry tests of the EG and RG yielded equally low general health, vitality, role-specific emotionality and mental health rates: see Figures 1 and 2 hereunder. It should be noted that the physical functionality, role-specific emotionality and social functionality (social functionality) test rates were within the statistical averages.

Figure 1. Pre- versus post-experimental quality of life test rates of the RG

Figure 2. Pre- versus post-experimental quality of life test rates of the EG
 

The post- versus pre-experimental test data of the RG showed a few significantly (p>0.05) growths on three SF-36 scales (Vitality, Role-specific Emotionality, Mental Health) versus the pre-experimental rates – associated with the significant (p<0.05) regress on the physical functionality, Pain Tolerance and Social Functionality scales: see Figure 1. The regresses on the physical functionality, pain tolerance and social functionality scales in the RG may be due to poor quality of the self-training models on the whole, substandard quality of the execution techniques, non-systemic design of the training system, and, as a result, failures to meet the health-improvement expectations of the group.
The post- versus pre-experimental test data of the EG showed significant (p <0.05) progress on every quality of life scale, and this fact may be interpreted as indicative of the high benefits of the Qigong (Ba Duan Jin) practices for senior women as verified by the progress of the EG versus RG: see Figure 3.

Figure 3. Post-experimental quality of life test rates of the EG versus RG
 

The study data and analyses demonstrated benefits of the Qigong (Ba Duan Jin) practices assisted by a knowledgeable and experienced trainer, since the traditional Chinese gymnastics system requires the motor skills being mastered correctly under supervision of a skilled master.
The Qigong practices may be no less beneficial for the Russian senior population groups that needs habitual health improvement services for the active longevity and life quality.
Conclusion. The study proved benefits of the 10-month Qigong (Ba Duan Jin) practices for senior women as verified by the significant improvements in their post- versus pre-experimental life quality and health rates.

References

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  2. Sikhvonen S.E., Sipila S., Era P.A. Changes in postural balance in weak older women during 4-week training session with visual feedback: randomized controlled trial. Gerontology, 2004, 50 (2): 87-95.
  3. Tracy B.L., Ivey F.M., Hallbut D. Influence of muscle quality on strength training in men and women aged 65-75 years. J Appl Physiol. 1999. 86: 195-201.
  4. Vanderhoek K.J., Soupland D.C., Parkhouse W.S. Effect of 32-week weight training on strength and balance for women with osteopen. Clin exerc Physiol. 2000. no.  2. pp. 77-83.
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Corresponding author: tashilko@gmail.com

Abstract
The economic growth in China is naturally associated with improvements in the life quality, popularity of the healthy lifestyle, extended life expectancy and, hence, growing share of the senior (60+) population group – which is reported at 243 million by the national statistics. The growing senior population group, however, is increasingly burdensome for the national socio-economic progress and social security system. With aging of the population, the Chinese communities are increasingly concerned by the seniors’ health standards and life quality and take efforts to encourage physical activity of this age group. Objective of the study was to analyze benefits of Chinese Qigong (Ba Duan Jin) gymnastics system for the senior women’s life quality. Sampled for the study were the 60-65 years old women (n=60) split up into EG and RG of 30 people each. EG trainings were dominated by the trainer-assisted Chinese Qigong gymnastics 3 times a week for 10 months, with a special role played by the specific physical and breathing exercises that are known to mitigate mental stresses, relax muscles, condition the mind and mood and improve health. The life quality of the sample was tested by the standard SF-36 questionnaire. The study proved benefits of the Qigong practices as verified by the meaningful improvements in the post- versus pre-experimental physical and mental functionality rates including the role-specific functionality, pain tolerance, general health, vitality, social functionality, role-specific emotionality, mental health and other test rates.