Tai Chi & Qigong as Modern Healthcare

  a step-by-step instruction into how to expand
Tai Chi & Qigong into Mainstream Healthcare
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World Tai Chi & Qigong Day founders, Bill and Angela Wong Douglas, have been pioneers in integrating Tai Chi and Qigong into modern healthcare.



What follows is a step-by-step explanation of how we did it locally, making Tai Chi and Qigong as valued treatment options for departments of the largest healthnetworks in our area. We'll start with the below overview and then break down each step below.


1) Get a Tai Chi and/or Qigong class started through local hospitals' fitness center or the wellness program of your local hospitals.

2) Get video testimonials. Once you get a program going, and your students start to see health results, lower high blood pressure, loss of chronic pain, normalized blood sugar levels, less anxiety, depression, sleep disorder, etc. -- Shoot video testimonials of your students to create a youtube video proving the efficacy of your classes at the hospital.

2a) Also, you can have students fill out a form when they begin your classes, describing challenges they face. Then have them fill out reports every 8 weeks or so, to monitor their progress and improvements. This will help you decide who to video as well, who will provide the most dramatic video testimonial.

3) Educate your local health professionals, hospital departments about the emerging medical research on Tai Chi, Qigong, and Meditation.



Below is a step-by-step breakdown of how to achieve the above steps.

1) Get a Tai Chi and/or Qigong class started through local hospitals' fitness center or the wellness program of your local hospitals.

At this point it should be clarified that hospitals are not looking for martial arts classes. Most people hearing about Tai Chi and Qigong these days are hearing about it in health and fitness magazines, and many coming to hospital classes are doing so because they face a health challenge, or are simply overwhelmed by modern stress.

You will have to be cognizant of your student's capabilities. When I was young, I used to do extreme positions to try to impress my students with my Tai Chi skill. Today I don't want to impress, I want to help them find healing from a Tai Chi and Qigong lifestyle.



How do you know who to contact at the hospital?

You don't at first. You have to explore. Many hospitals offer wellness and fitness classes, so ask the receptionist who (or what department) runs those classes at their hospital or health network, and contact them about making Tai Chi or Qigong part of their offerings.

Don't assume they will know what Tai Chi or Qigong are, many will think you want to start a karate class, and as I mentioned most people and most health networks are not interested in combat classes. They seek healing benefits. So you may need to have some quick facts about Tai Chi and Qigong Medical Research, so you can help the "fitness/health class coordinator or director" see why Tai Chi or QG would be PERFECT for their institution.

The many already have a class in this area. If you feel your approach offers something unique, let them know. My Tai Chi and Qigong classes focus heavily on meditation, so I have gotten classes going in health networks and institutions that already had a Tai Chi class, but one that was more physically focused.



Where do I get Tai Chi and Qigong Medical Research to use for this?

If you subscribe to our free Ezine email newsletters at WorldTaiChiDay.org you will have a lot of research already. If you didn't read those issues, you can go back to our Ezine Tai Chi and Qigong magazine archives to read past issues in several languages.

Also, you can utilize our WorldTaiChiDay.org Medical Research on Tai Chi and QG library, where we have nearly 100 common health challenges listed along with medical research showing how Tai Chi and/or QG can benefit those health issues, with links to the original articles.

Once you get into a hospital or health network to teach Tai Chi and/or QG, then focus on having fun and helping your students understand the medical research and the joy of these mind-body arts. We advise against macho approaches that test and strain students, and rather focus on loosening, breathing, and enjoying the sensation of motion and life energy. Help your students learn how to enjoy the sensations of Tai Chi and QG. Do not hurt them. Play with them. Teach them how to "play" Tai Chi and/or QG.

As your students begin to see health benefits they can measure or describe, you are ready for the next step.



2) Get video testimonials, and written testimonials of your student's health benefits.

Once you get a program going, and your students start to see health results, lower high blood pressure, loss of chronic pain, normalized blood sugar levels, less anxiety, depression, sleep disorder, etc. -- Shoot video testimonials of your students to create a youtube video proving the efficacy of your classes at the hospital.

If you or your students know video editing, you can create a short concise 4 or 5 minute video about your classes, titling it "Such-and-Such Hospital Patients See Big Health Gains from Such-and-Such Hospital's Tai Chi / QG Program."

Make the Tai Chi or QG program part of the hospital or health network, so that they see it as a source of pride, rather than competition to what they do. Everyone likes to be a drum-major, everyone likes to be cutting-edge and avant-garde. Tai Chi and QG are the new rising star in healthcare. Let your local hospitals find pride in being connected with the tools you offer patients to improve their lives.

If you do not know how to do video editing, check out Windows Movie Maker. It is a free program you can download off the internet, and it is easy to learn to use, and it can make pretty good videos.

Once you've created your video, you can use it as part of an advocacy project, trying to get a few minutes at various physicians' department meetings.

See a few examples of some videos we created using a combination of our University of Kansas Hospital's Tai Chi Meditation Program, and medical research summaries will expand on below. Note that each video was created for a different department setting.

The top one (to your right, entitled "University of Kansas Hospital Tai Chi Meditation Class for Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson's Disease") was created for a presentation we did for a Midwest Multiple Sclerosis annual symposium held on the Kansas University Medical School campus.

The video below that was created for a presentation we were commissioned to do for the Kansas University professionals and some families dealith with dementia. Our presentation was viewed at hospitals throughout the state of Kansas via a closed circuit TV system.

Below we will detail how to approach hospital and health network departments in the hope of doing more in depth presentations later.




3) Educate your local health professionals, hospital departments about the emerging medical research on Tai Chi, Qigong, and Meditation.

Why? You might ask. There are many reasons:
1) Having them refer patients to your classes held at their hospital, 2) Possibly stumbling across grant funding to fund the classes (pay your salary) so that the classes can be free and open to the public. 3) Maybe connecting with a like minded physician or department who would like to do research on people in your classes to measure benefits. 4) Pass out your business cards or brochures with your contact info and make sure everyone in the room knows you are available to do more in depth presentations on the medical research on Tai Chi and/or Qigong and also to expose health professionals in their departments to the actual Tai Chi and Qigong experience.

Most hospital departments have regular meetings, and if you try you may be able to get 5 or 10 minutes to make a quick pitch to the gathered physicians to convince them why they should send patients to your/their hospital's Tai Chi and/or QG classes.

You will not have much time. So be prepared. Physicians are over-worked, over-strained, and out of time. You have to have a very succinct handout with research citings about their health field and how Tai Chi / QG can benefit their patients. You can have more verbous back up pages to go behind the summary page on top, but make that summary page clear, short and easy to read quickly.

Explain to physicians that research show that Tai Chi is much more than a physical exercise, even though it provides the cardio vascular benefit of moderate impact aerobics and burns as many calories as surfing. It is the lowest impact exercise their is and it is accessbile to anyone. Even those in wheel-chairs can do modified forms of Tai Chi.

TELL THEM ABOUT THE "HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL GUIDE TO TAI CHI." In fact, lead with that. I think the biggest tool we ever had to pry open opportunities in hospitals and health networks is that Harvard Guide to Tai Chi. You, as a Tai Chi teacher can talk till your blue in the face and physicians may not react, but when Harvard Medical School talks, physicians often listen.


Read the Harvard guide, particularly the medical research. Know where to find different health issues, and how to point physicians and departments right to the pages they'd find of interest.

One thing we did was to pull together all the research we could find on Tai Chi for common health issues, and then get a listing of all the departments at the University of Kansas Hospital Departments, breaking research down by each department's field of interest. Click here to access it.

If you find success in convincing physicians or departments to refer patients to your classes in their hospital or health network, reach out to the hospital magazine or media department to see if they'd like to do an article or video on the Tai Chi QG Program at their hospital. Use this outreach to say "every physician and patient at Such-and-Such Hospital must know about these classes, because emerging medical research shows that Tai Chi and/or Qigong can benefit virtually any health challenge people are facing."

Again, these hospital classes must have a gentle, accepting, low impact, healing approach. Students must be given a lot of leaway, a great deal of encouragement, and a good dose of fun. If people enjoy Tai Chi and Qigong, and do it to breathe, loosen, and play, they will keep coming back, and their lives will improve.

In these hospital settings many people's lives are serious enough, don't make Tai Chi and Qigong another grim serious thing. Let it be play and let class be playtime.

NOTE: I was a rigid "long form" advocate for many years of my teaching, insisting that the long tai chi form had to be learned if it was to beneficial.

A few years ago I was commissioned to create a Tai Chi and Qigong DVD for people dealing with Parkinson's Disease, and to tour the nation presenting for PD groups and associations. I learned that a Tai Chi long form was inaccesible for many, and I broke down and created a very short short form of about 6 movements, which we repeat over and over again, to make a long tai chi exercise with a very short form.

IT WORKED! The testimonial videos you see in the right column are nearly entirely benefits people have gotten from only the short form practice.

I encourage those launching Tai Chi and Qigong classes in hospital settings to create a very short 6 or 7 movement form. Mine is the first and last movements of our Guang Ping Tai Chi Long Form, which offers lateral (side to side) movement, front left, front right, left back, right back, movement, to give students a full motion experience.

We spend time in class on sitting qigong, breathing, visualization, relaxation meditation -- to bring our minds into our bodies, and our focus on our breathing and letting go of our grip on the day so the Qi or lightness can expand through us, lighten us and loosen us.


We do Moving Qigong Warm Ups primarily with our eyes closed, as I verbalize suggestions of breathing, and loosening and letting go of muscle groups, bones, etc.

Then about a quarter of the class is on Tai Chi, and we make our Tai Chi a loosening, breathing, Qigong exercise meant to loosen up, lighten up, and feel how good it feels to move.

Keep it light. Keep it fun, and Enjoy yourself, and encourage your class to play.

The benefits will come.




"In doing nothing, all things are done."
-- Lao Tzu, the Tao te Ching






















Video Testimonials on Tai Chi Meditation Classes at University of Kansas Hospital & KU Medical Center

University of Kansas Hospital Tai Chi Meditation Class for Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson's Disease




University of Kansas Hospital and Kansas University Medical Center Video Presentation for Healthcare Professionals Dealing with Dementia (This presentation was simulcast to hospitals throughout the state of Kansas, using closed circuit TV, and was accompanied by a Tai Chi and Qigong Meditative Instruction presentation).





Tai Chi Meditation Testimonials from University of Kansas Hospital's Program, Dealing with Various Health Issues ... Interspersed with Medical Research Reflecting the Benefits Our Students are Seeing.










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Tai Chi Medical Research Broken Down by Hospital Departments Interest

Pulmonary Medicine:

COPD. Conventional pulmonary rehab. programs focus on aerobic exercise and strength training to improve exercise capacity, quality of life, and symptoms in patients with COPD. Tai Chi extends the breathing techniques taught in pulmonary rehab. by integrating novel elements, such as progressive relaxation, imagery/visualization, mindfulness of breathing and overall body sensations, postural training, and coordinated patterns of breathing and movement. These additional therapeutic elements make Tai Chi an effective adjunct to conventional rehabilitation.


Neurology Department:

Parkinson's disease. The New England Journal of Medicine published a study showing that Tai Chi can improve both balance and movement control for people who have Parkinson's disease. The study at the Oregon Research Institute included 195 people who had mild-to-moderate Parkinson's disease; they were randomly assigned to twice-weekly sessions of Tai Chi, or strength-building sessions, or to stretching ... after six months, those who did Tai Chi were stronger and had much better balance than those in the other two groups. In fact, their balance was four times better than those in the stretching group and about two times better than those in the resistance-training group. The Tai Chi group also had significantly fewer falls and slower rates of decline in overall motor control. (Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi. Pages 121 and 122.)

Parkinson's disease. A 33-person pilot study from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, published in Gait and Posture (October 2008), found that people with mild to moderately severe Parkinson's disease showed improved balance, walking ability, and overall well-being after 20 tai chi sessions. (Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi. Pages 121.)

Cognitive Function, Neuroplasticity, and Dementia. Although longer follow up periods are desired to make stronger conclusions, a large trial found that after one year a Tai Chi trial group showed greater improvements in cognitive performance after one year than a group assigned to a stretching and toning program. Fewer of those in the Tai Chi group progressed to dementia, and the author's conclusion was that Tai Chi may offer specific benefits to cognition. (Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi, page 185. Additional studies showing Tai Chi benefits in cognitive function found on page 186.)



Neurology Department (Balance Issues):

Otolaryngology Department (Hearing & Balance Disorders):

Proprioception (Ability to sense the position and location and orientation and movement of the body and its parts). One study compared long-term Tai Chi practitioners to age-matched swimmers, runners, and sedentary controls. The Tai Chi practitioners had a better sense of the position of their ankle and knee joints in space, and were more sensitive to small movements of their joints. So, Tai Chi may give you more accurate, quicker feedback for balance and posture, which could help prevent falling. (Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi. Page 118.)

Falls Prevention. An Emory University study found that 48 weeks of Tai Chi reduced the fear of falling significantly compared to a wellness education program. An earlier study reported a significantly greater reduction in fear of falling following Tai Chi compared to computerized balance training: improvements in fear of falling were correlated with a nearly 50 percent reduction in the fall rate. Another trial reported that the combination of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) plus Tai Chi improved fear of falling, as well as measures of mobility, social support satisfaction, and quality of life, more than CBT alone.

Parkinson's disease. The New England Journal of Medicine published a study showing that Tai Chi can improve both balance and movement control for people who have Parkinson's disease. The study at the Oregon Research Institute included 195 people who had mild-to-moderate Parkinson's disease; they were randomly assigned to twice-weekly sessions of Tai Chi, or strength-building sessions, or to stretching ... after six months, those who did Tai Chi were stronger and had much better balance than those in the other two groups. In fact, their balance was four times better than those in the stretching group and about two times better than those in the resistance-training group. The Tai Chi group also had significatntly fewer falls and slower rates of decline in overall motor control. (Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi. Pages 121 and 122.)


Rheumatology Department:

Arthritis. In a 40-person study at Tufts University, presented in October 2008 at a meeting of the American College of Rheumatology, an hour of tai chi twice a week for 12 weeks reduced pain and improved mood and physical functioning more than standard stretching exercises in people with severe knee osteoarthritis. According to a Korean study published in December 2008 in Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, eight weeks of tai chi classes followed by eight weeks of home practice significantly improved flexibility and slowed the disease process in patients with ankylosing spondylitis, a painful and debilitating inflammatory form of arthritis that affects the spine.

Fibromyalgia. A recent randomized study reported in the New England Journal of Medicine used a protocal similar to their osteoarthritis and rheumatoid artritis studies. Tai Chi led to a large improvement in symptoms listed on a clinically validated questionnaire about fibromyalgia symptoms, as well as spearate measures related to pain, sleep quality, depression, and quality of life. These improvements were maintained for six months, more Tai Chi subjects cut back on their use of medication compared to controls, and again, there were no Tai chi-related adverse events.

Additional support for using Tai Chi to treat fibromyalgia comes from smaller noncontrolled studies and case series, as well as from studies reporting positive effects on fibromyalgia following mind-body therapies, including Qigong and mindfulness-based stress reduction ... growing evidence suggests that Tai Chi, when taught by experienced teachers, is safe and potentially an effective adjunct therapy for people who sufer with back pain, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and fibromyalgia. By treating the whole person, Tai Chi targets not only pain but also many of the secondary factors associated with pain, and it sets up behaviors that may slow down disease progression. (Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi. Pages 148-149.)


Spine Center:

Back Pain and Chronic Pain. Physicians now recommend regular exercise to improve function in people who have chronic ailments, including arthritis and back pain ... Mind-body therapies such as Tai Chi, Qigong, and yoga are widely used by people who have back pain, as well as those who have osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, and rheumatoid arthritis. A growing body of studies suggest Tai Chi may be effective for easing pain and improving quality of life for these and other pain conditions. This research also is beginning to show how Tai Chi may positively affect musculoskeletal pain conditions, such as by improving strength, flexibility, postural alignment, neuromuscular movement patterns, breathing, and psychological well-being.

Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi author, Peter Wayne, and Harvard researcher, Gloria Yeh, conducted a small, unpublished pilot study in which they anonymously surveyed 144 practitioners (of Tai Chi), average age 53, two-thirds of them women, at Boston area Tai Chi schools. More than half of these Tai Chi practitioners said they had used Tai Chi for back or neck pain, and nearly all reported Tai Chi was "helpful" or "very helpful."

A handful of Tai Chi and Qigong studies in diverse populations, including cancer survivors and osteoporotic women, suggest that Tai Chi may have a positive impact on markers of inflammation. (Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi. Pages 130 to 141.)



Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences Department:

Anxiety/Depression. A growing number of studies support the positive impact of Tai Chi on many aspects of psychological well-being. Dr. Chenchen Wang of Tufts University School of Medicine identified 40 studies conducted both in the West and in China that included an evaluation of Tai Chi for psychological outcomes. ... The review concluded that Tai Chi appears to be associated with improvements in stress, anxiety, depression, mood, and increased self-esteem. (Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi. Page 206.)

School age children / ADHD. Some studies suggest Tai Chi helps children with special needs, including those with ADHD, and to deal with anxiety and moods.

[Tai Chi and Yoga have common mind-body elements] A randomized control trial of yoga versus physical education by researchers at Harvard Medical School showed that high school students who practiced yoga had a better mood overall and felt less anxiety, while the typical gym class group showed a worsening of these symptoms over the course of the 10-week study. (Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi. Page 274.)


Endrocrinology Metabolism and Genetics Department:

Low bone density. A review of six controlled studies by Dr. Wayne and other Harvard researchers indicates that tai chi may be a safe and effective way to maintain bone density in postmenopausal women. A controlled study of tai chi in women with osteopenia (diminished bone density not as severe as osteoporosis) is under way at the Osher Research Center and Boston's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Bone strength & density. The most rigorous support for the positive effects of Tai chi on BMD (bone marrow density) comes from randomized trials. One trial observed that BMD at the lumbar spine significantly increased following 01 months of Tai Chi, while in sedentary controls, the BMD decreased. ... A second randomized trial observed that for older women (but not men), 12 months of Tai Chi resulted in maintenance of total hip BMD levels when compared to non-exercise controls, who lost bone in their hips ... the beneficial effects of Tai Chi were equivalent to 12 months of resistance training.

Diabetes. A Louisiana State University study found that people who had plantar peripheral neuropathy due to diabetes, after 24 weeks of Tai Chi classes enjoyed an increased sensitivity of the soles of the feet, greater balance, and faster walking speed. (Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi. Page 118.)

Diabetes. A few studies, including one randomized trial, have reported improvements in blood sugar control following Tai Chi training. However, most of the more rigorous RCTs have not reported any apparent benefit of Tai Ch on glucose metabolism. (Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi. Page 158.)

NOTE FROM TP TAI CHI & QIGONG INSTRUCTOR, BILL DOUGLAS: Harvard's Guide to Tai Chi emphasizes the importance of incorporating visualization/meditative experience with Tai Chi movement. In my current classes two of my students have reported on how their blood sugar levels have changed since beginning my classes. One student was on insulin when she started my classes, and is now off insulin (note, I do not make any medical recommendations, only suggesting that students let their physicians know they are practicing Tai Chi, in case it may affect their blood sugar levels.) Another of my students was poised to go on insulin, two years ago, when he had maxed out on three prediabetic medications, including daily injections. In recent months, his physician took him off two of those medications, including the injections, because his blood sugar levels were normalizing, and he is now closely observing to see if his patient will need to discontinue the third remaining medication.)



Cancer Center:

Breast cancer. Tai chi has shown potential for improving quality of life and functional capacity (the physical ability to carry out normal daily activities, such as work or exercise) in women suffering from breast cancer or the side effects of breast cancer treatment. For example, a 2008 study at the University of Rochester, published in Medicine and Sport Science, found that quality of life and functional capacity (including aerobic capacity, muscular strength, and flexibility) improved in women with breast cancer who did 12 weeks of tai chi, while declining in a control group that received only supportive therapy.

– Harvard Health Publications – Harvard Medical School


A 2004 study at the Wilmot Cancer Center in Rochester, NY, assigned 21 women who had been treated for breast cancer to either 12 weeks of tai chi or 12 weeks of participation in a psychosocial support group, both for 1 hour, 3 times a week. The women who practiced tai chi showed significant improvements in self-esteem and quality of life when compared with the women in the psychosocial support group. According to researchers, tai chi may have more of a positive impact on self-esteem than the psychosocial support group because:

• The physical aspects of self-esteem might have more meaning for breast cancer survivors than for other groups of people.

• Since tai chi is a more active practice than participation in a support group, tai chi might help create a sense of being in control.

In a more recent Wilmot Cancer Center study published in 2006, 21 women who had been treated for breast cancer were randomly assigned either to practice tai chi or to participate in a psychosocial support group, both for 1 hour, 3 times a week for 12 weeks. This time, researchers studied the women's heart and lung function, muscular strength, and flexibility. While the women in the psychosocial support group showed improved flexibility, the women in the tai chi group showed improvements in all 3 categories, as well as a slight reduction in percentage of body fat.

http://www.breastcancer.org/treatment/comp_med/types/tai_chi

Immune System Improvement:

Regular Tai Chi Chuan exercise improves T cell helper function of patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus with an increase in T-bet transcription factor and IL-12 production.

OBJECTIVE: This study investigated the effect of a 12-week course of Tai Chi Chuan (TCC) exercise on T cell helper (Th) reaction in patients with type 2 DM.

CONCLUSIONS: A 12-week TCC exercise programme decreases HbA1c levels along with an increase in the Th1 reaction. A combination of TCC with medication may provide an even better improvement in both metabolism and immunity of patients with type 2 DM.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18385192

Tai Chi had a significant effect on functional mobility and beliefs about the health benefits of exercise. Total white blood cell and red blood cell count did not change, but a significant decrease in monocyte count occurred. A significant increase in the ratio of T helper to suppressor cells (CD4:CD8) was found, along with a significant increase in CD4CD25 regulatory T cells.

-- British Journal of Sports Medicine, 40, 239-43


IMMUNE SYSTEM: A study conducted in China indicates that T'ai Chi may increase the number of T lymphocytes in the body. Also know as T-Cells, these lymphocytes help the immune system destroy bacteria and possibly even tumor cells

-- Prevention Magazine V. 42, May 90, p.14-15

Tai chi boosts your immune system (T-Cell count DOUBLED)

The ancient martial art of tai chi could substantially boost the body's immune system. Medisch Dossier (volume 6, number 7), a Dutch medical newsletter, reports on a study where a group of older men and women (average age of 70) practiced tai chi three days a week for 45 minutes. After fifteen weeks they not only felt healthier, but had twice the number of immune cells or so-called T-cells “with memories”, which are specially equipped to knock out the virus that causes shingles—an affliction in many older people.

- Ode Magazine

Practicing Tai Chi Boosts Immune System in Older Adults, UCLA Study Shows

The 25-week study, which involved a group of 112 adults ranging in age from 59 to 86, showed that practicing tai chi chih alone boosted immunity to a level comparable to having received the standard vaccine against the shingles-causing varicella zoster virus.

The findings demonstrate that tai chi chih can produce a clinically relevant boost in shingles immunity and add to the benefit of the shingles vaccine in older adults.

These are exciting findings, because the positive results of this study also have implications for other infectious diseases, like influenza and pneumonia," said Irwin, who is also director of the UCLA Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology.

The study divided individuals into two groups. Half took tai chi chih classes three times a week for 16 weeks, while the other half attended health education classes [classes lasted 40 minutes, a set of 20 tai chi exercises] — including advice on stress management, diet and sleep habits — for the same amount of time and did not practice tai chi chih. After 16 weeks, both groups received a dose of the shingles vaccine Varivax. At the end of the 25-week period, the tai chi chih group achieved a level of immunity two times greater than the health education group. The tai chi chih group also showed significant improvements in physical functioning, vitality, mental health and reduction of bodily pain.

http://www.newsroom.ucla.edu/page.asp?RelNum=7806&menu=fullsearchresults

A 2012 University of Wisconsin, Madison, study found that mindful meditation can cut your chances of catching a cold by 40 to 50%. Fifty-one people using mindfulness techniques logged 13 fewer illnesses and 51 fewer sick days than a control group during one cold and flu season.

A University of Virginia study found that their varsity swim team swimmers got 70% fewer respiratory infections when practicing Qigong at least once a week, compared to swimmers who used it less.

-- Prevention Magazine's Winter/2012 Issue.





Internal Medicine Department - Division of Cardiovascular Diseases:

Heart disease. A 53-person study at National Taiwan University found that a year of tai chi significantly boosted exercise capacity, lowered blood pressure, and improved levels of cholesterol, triglycerides, insulin, and C-reactive protein in people at high risk for heart disease. The study, which was published in the September 2008 Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, found no improvement in a control group that did not practice tai chi.

Heart failure. In a 30-person pilot study at Harvard Medical School, 12 weeks of tai chi improved participants' ability to walk and quality of life. It also reduced blood levels of B-type natriuretic protein, an indicator of heart failure. A 150-patient controlled trial is under way.

Hypertension. In a review of 26 studies in English or Chinese published in Preventive Cardiology (Spring 2008), Dr. Yeh reported that in 85% of trials, tai chi lowered blood pressure — with improvements ranging from 3 to 32 mm Hg in systolic pressure and from 2 to 18 mm Hg in diastolic pressure.

Stroke. In 136 patients who'd had a stroke at least six months earlier, 12 weeks of tai chi improved standing balance more than a general exercise program that entailed breathing, stretching, and mobilizing muscles and joints involved in sitting and walking. Findings were published in the January 2009 issue of Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair.


Pulmonary Medicine:

Breathing. Studies have shown better respiratory function in Tai Chi practitioners compared to those who are sdentary. What's more, Tai Chi appears to slow the loss of respiratory function in older adults over time in studies up to five years long. (Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi. Page 172)

COPD (Projected to be the 3rd leading cause of death in US by 2020). Conventional pulmonary rehab. programs focus on aerobic exercise and strength training to improve exercise capacity, quality of life, and symptoms in patients with COPD. Tai Chi extends the breathing techniques taught in pulmonary rehab. by integrating novel elements, such as progressive relaxation, imagery/visualization, mindfulness of breathing and overall body sensations, postural training, and coordinated patterns of breathing and movement. These additional therapeutic elements make Tai Chi an effective adjunct to conventional rehabilitation.

Studies: A Harvard study showed that after 12 weeks the Tai Chi group felt significant improvement in chronic respiratory symptoms compared to the usual COPD care group. The Tai Chi group also had slight improvements in their six-minute walking distance, depression, and shortness of breath. Harvard is following up with a larger NIH funded study to compare a Tai Chi group to other meditative techniques, as well as to a non-exercise education program.

A larger Hong Kong study found a Tai Chi Qigong group improved key measures of respiratory function and participated in higher levels of activity when compared to a walking plus breathing exercise or usual care group. The Tai Chi group also reported greater improvements in respiratory health-related quality of life.

Research shows that Tai Chi-like exercises, including Qigong, may help sustain the gains COPD patients make after completing pulmonary rehabilitation, which often is lost after about six months. (Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi, pages 176 to 178.)


KU Sleep Disorders Center:

Sleep problems. In a University of California, Los Angeles, study of 112 healthy older adults with moderate sleep complaints, 16 weeks of tai chi improved the quality and duration of sleep significantly more than standard sleep education. The study was published in the July 2008 issue of the journal Sleep.


Allergy & Immunology:

Asthma. Preliminary research indicates that Tai Chi, as well as other mind-body exercises like Qigong, may be helpful for asthmatics, both children and adults. 12 weeks of Tai Chi training improved the lung function of children with asthma in a small Taiwanese study. A small Thailand study suggested that adult asthma sufferers may be able to better control their breathing and improve their exercise performance using Tai Chi training. After six weeks of Tai Chi training, the patients said they felt more comfortable during a six-minute walk and increased their maximum work rate and maximum oxygen consumption. (Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi, page 179.)



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