Benefits of Chinese health practices for academic health service system

S.V. Korneeva1
L.V. Smirnova1
Associate Professor, PhD E.N. Terekhina1
D.Y. Sevostyanov1
1South Ural State University (National Research University), Chelyabinsk

Keywords: students, health protection, physical activity, functionality, Qigong.

Introduction. Today, oriental health practices are being studied by a number of domestic scientists working on philosophical, psychological, pedagogical issues, as well as on the matters of physical education, valeology, medicine, and developing therapeutic and rehabilitative methods, health improvement and preventive methods, considered in an integral and functional framework [3, 1].

However, despite the positive impact of the Chinese health practices on the human body, they have not been properly implemented in the academic physical education system in Russia as an effective means of improvement of their physical, mental and moral qualities.

Objective of the study was to show by experiments benefits of the Chinese health practice for the academic physical education of university students.

Methods and structure of the study. The analysis of the data obtained when interviewing the SUSU students of various specialties showed that modern students have obvious and sometimes hidden health problems they are not aware of. They are under-informed about the correlation between health and level of physical development, the importance of a healthy lifestyle for the future specialists and people in general. The sociological questionnaire survey showed that in process of studying at a higher educational institution, the number of students who smoked changed from 11.4% to 18%, those doing physical and morning exercises - from 20.5% to 16.1%, those attending sports sections - from 10.2% to 6.8%, joggers - from 4% to 2.5%; those keeping their regular hours - from 17.8% to 15%, those watching their diet - from 14.5% to 12.6%, those regularly consulting a doctor - from 8.3% to 7.5%. Thus, the students’ state of health is a problem that requires a comprehensive review in conjunction with environmental factors, degree of socio-economic development, lifestyle and attitude to own health [4, 5].

Throughout 2015–2018, the educational experiment was conducted during the physical education classes at South Ural State University. The Reference Group (RG) subjects were engaged in the traditional academic physical education course under the Physical Education discipline. The experimental program under the Physical Education discipline included the following planning documents: scheduled plan of the educational process; distribution of the lecture, methodological and practical and training hours; sets of additional physical training exercises at home.

At the beginning of the experiment, the students were asked to evaluate the goals of Qigong and set them in order of importance (see Table 1).

When processing the results obtained, we summarized the data and grouped the main goals, after which the points were given out. Every mention on the first place in order of importance - 3 points, second place – 2 points, all subsequent places - 1 point. Then the points assigned to each group of goals were added up, and by dividing by the number of respondents the mean score was calculated. For convenience, the results were multiplied by 100.


Table 1. Distribution of goals of Qigong in order of importance for students




Health improvement, health maintenance



Inner harmonization. Self-conception and self-acceptance.



Spiritual growth. Gaining higher understanding of the Universe and own place in it.



Solving day-to-day problems (coping with workload, living successfully, making a lot of money)



Acquiring and developing special capabilities, working with hidden body reserves



Opportunity to help family and friends, including healing



Focused interest (in esoterica, East)



Abstract interest (figure out what it is/ for the ride)



Getting in contact with surrounding people



Building own character, shedding inhibitions and getting rid of negative emotions



Getting a credit for the Physical Education course



It should be noted that both students purposefully practicing Qigong and students trained as provided by the State Educational Standard are not sufficiently motivated for health and fitness activities and, due to permanent shortage of time, turn to this health practice for serious reasons and with serious intentions only (health improvement and spiritual development).

A distinctive feature of the physical education classes in the Experimental Group (EG) was using the Qigong breathing exercises in the special health group physical training process. Qigong (literally translated as: manipulation of "qi") is a form of physical exercise serving both treatment and rehabilitation functions, and including special means of training of the mind and consciousness, as provided by the concepts of Eastern philosophy [4]. Moreover, during different types of training, these exercise sequences help solve different tasks aimed to achieve a common goal of continuous physical training. At the end of the lesson, a complex of individual self-massage was used to eliminate general tension and unwanted side effects after workload. The following exercises were introduced into the curriculum:

  • "pole standing" (Zhan Zhuang). This static exercise, performed in a standing position, has long been used in martial arts. Exercise duration - 10-15 minutes;
  • classical "eight-brocade exercise " (Baduanjin);
  • Tai Chi Chuan complexes;
  • exercises to prevent vision impairments, etc.

The number of class hours was the same for both of the groups.

The following test methods were used to assess the qualitative changes occurred in the students’ functional capabilities during the Qigong practices, as well as evaluate their general physical condition: HR, VC, systolic pressure, orthostatic test, timed inspiratory and expiratory capacity tests, Harvard step test (HST).

Results and discussion. In EG, the number of students, whose expectations were met by the organization and content of the physical education classes, increased more than in any other group. The students noted that Qigong changed their attitude to physical activity for the better. The students of all groups (46% before the start of the experiment) expected the physical education classes to improve their health primarily. At the end of the experiment, this indicator increased in all groups, but the greatest increase was detected in EG - it amounted to 20% of the initial result. An important fact is that satisfaction with physical training increased in all courses, and the percentage of students experiencing fatigue during the class decreased.

An increase in the indices (timed inspiratory and expiratory capacity tests) of EG (p<0.05) testifies to the improvement of their respiratory system functionality and general health promotion. The above-limit values (systolic pressure, orthostatic test), given as the mean values, indicate the growth of the body's energy potential. An increase in the HST index testifies to the absence of any signs of fatigue or overtraining with the actual training time increment. The HR values in EG were obviously lower than those in RG, and the students’ breathing did not get any quicker, since the oxygen debt was liquidated due to its deepening rather than its increase (VC: p<0.05).

The results of the second survey showed that the students practicing Qigong used their free time budget most efficiently. For instance, they spend 14.0% of time watching television and working on a computer, as opposed to 27.0% of students who do not practice Qigong. The difference in the time spent by the students on their health-improvement physical education is even more significant - 8.0% and 27.0%, respectively.

In the light of the experience gained when training SUSU students, the we were able to identify and substantiate the main fundamental conditions for introduction of the Chinese health practice, beyond which it would be impossible to solve the issue of health correction during physical training of students.

The first condition is the unity of the theoretical and practical components of physical education, including the problems of parallel formation of knowledge and skills in independent training. The Chinese health practices include not only the types of sports and physical exercises interested for students but also those that could be of interest in older age groups. This promising health-improvement physical education system is aimed to ensure graduate students’ healthy lifestyle in subsequent periods of life.

The second condition is, on the one hand, attention to the rational timing of formation of the ability to train independently, on the other – understanding the actual benefit and progress in the students’ physical condition.

The third condition is the transition from heavy regulations of the training process to the combination and gradual transition from regulated physical activities to self-regulated ones - when a student determines the time, place and form of own health and fitness activities himself, on condition that the necessary minimum of regulated activities is provided to ensure an adequate level of physical fitness as provided by the program (for those who has not yet developed a setting for own physical improvement).

Conclusion. For the students of all medical groups, the health and fitness activities with the inclusion of the Qigong health practice are important in terms of expanding their knowledge about various recovery methods.

In our opinion, the Chinese health saving practices can occupy a rightful place in the health-improvement physical education system of Russia. Understanding the essence of Qigong does not come immediately: all movements are perceived only as external and mechanical, awareness of their depth comes gradually. However, at the initial stage of training, individual combinations can be adapted to prevent a particular disease and combined with other means of health-improvement physical education.


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The study analyzes benefits of foreign health practices, with a special attention to the Chinese ones, for the academic health service system. The interest is due to the commonly known successes of the modern Chinese education system in the physical education and health domain. Objective of the study was to find the most efficient Chinese health technologies and adapt them to the health services provided by the national education system. A special emphasis shall be made on the academic health service with contribution of the best Chinese health practices for the healthy specialist training mission. Sampled for the study were the 17-19 year-old students of SUSU (n=197). The study data and analyses showed benefits of the Chinese Qigong health practices (with their focus on the best ethical qualities, mental conditioning, respiratory training, postural control etc.) for the academic PES service as verified by the Experimental Group progress in the physicality and functionality rates plus the notable academic progress. Based on the study findings, the authors make recommendations on how the best Chinese health practices may be implemented in the adapted and customizable formats in the academic PES service system to improve the health culture of Russian students.