Why Every Senior Citizen Should Do Qigong
One of the things that leave an impression for many of those who have been to China, is the early morning activities of the locals. They normally take place wherever it is green or traffic free, such as parks, gardens, squares, playgrounds. These places would simply be crammed with people doing a variety of things from Tai Chi, Qigong and Kung Fu to ballroom dancing and playing badminton. Viewing all that, one cannot help but notice that the majority of the people are practicing Qigong and that most of them are in their sixties, seventies and older.
Why is that so? Why is Qigong so popular among the elderly Chinese and what is it that makes us think that every other person over sixty on this planet should do the same, which is practice some style of Qigong everyday for the rest of their lives. Here are some major reasons.
1. Qigong can treat many diseases
Living up to a ripe old age and still being healthy, self reliant and happy seems today like winning the lottery. Statistically, we live longer (in Australia, both men and women are approaching the high average of 80), but, also statistically, older people suffer most from all kinds of diseases and conditions. The number of people suffering from asthma, cancer, osteoporosis, stroke, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, cataract and a plethora of other conditions proportionately and sharply increasing with age, makes you wonder: is living longer while suffering so much a blessing or a curse? One thing we are sure of is that they are a golden egg goose for doctors and drug companies who'd love to keep it that way.
Qigong has been known to treat many of the abovementioned conditions thus not only sparing them a lot of suffering, but also saving them a lot of money by slashing their medical bills significantly. In other words, being a self healing technique, Qigong can be applied and re-applied as many times as one finds the need at no extra cost, plus save on expensive medical tests, specialist visits, operations, hospitalisation, travel, etc. On top of that, being a wholistic therapy, Qigong can not only treat one major condition, but all of them at the same time. For example a patient suffering from asthma after practicing Qigong for some time may improve his/her blood pressure, cholesterol levels, blood sugar levels or recover from stroke to mention a few typical scenarios. Automatically it reduces or even completely stops the need for medication thus preventing their side effects and further complications.
2. Qigong can prevent many diseases
There were many studies done in China in the last 30 years on the effects of Qigong in preventing disease. Typically, scientists would randomly select several hundred to several thousand people who regularly practice Qigong for a period of say two to three years and then, after having them medically examined, they would compare their findings with another group of as many randomly selected people who do not practice Qigong. Many such studies were done on people aged sixty and over and they would always, without exception, confirm definite positive health benefits that Qigong practice brings along. The larger the number of people researched, the clearer the results. Among other parameters, they would include their body weight, blood pressure, sight, hearing, bone density, flexibility, cholesterol levels, blood sugar levels, as well as monitor how often they get sick from flu, cold, migraine, back ache, etc. After taking all these factors into consideration, it becomes quite apparent that people who regularly practice Qigong are not only much healthier, but can also see better, hear better, are more mobile, flexible and do not catch colds, get flu and the like as often. Not only that, among those who have practiced Qigong for many years, there were quite a few of those who had their teeth still intact, had perfect sight and hearing and maintained their natural hair colour (without dyes of course). And because their skin becomes lustrous and firm, they even look younger. Some other studies that exclusively focused on "before" and "after" health conditions of the same individuals who embarked on Qigong practice, confirmed the above furthermore.
3. Qigong can extend life
Having established that Qigong can treat and prevent many diseases, one does not have to be a genius to conclude that Qigong can lengthen life. If one does not get sick in the first place or if they get rid of their disease, they significantly minimize their chances of premature dying. This is because, unfortunately, nobody these days dies of old age*. There are two major sources that strongly support the above statement:
a) thousands of years of observation (ie every Chinese person knows that the long term practitioners of Qigong live much longer)
b) recent scientific studies, especially among people 80 and older
Not to mention many Qigong masters, some of them quite old themselves who are not only as healthy as "oak" but go and treat thousands of sick people across China with their extraordinary chi energy power. Many of them speak highly of their own masters who are even older than them, but due to lack of interest in the materialistic lifestyle keep a low profile and live in deserted places, temples or somewhere in the mountains. According to some, the age of these masters can be so high that most people we consider "old" in comparison would seem as young as teenagers not anywhere near their 150 plus years.
4. Qigong can improve the quality of life
Again, another thing that knowing the above, is not too hard to work out. Qigong can improve the quality of life in many different ways. For one - not being sick or disabled (either as a result of the illness itself or some doctors' wonder treatments). Many old people started practicing Qigong because of their illnesses and this came as an instant reward. Some people were so used to their constant pain, incontinence, shingles, insomnia or indigestion that they had to get accustomed to this new, pain-free life (which they quickly did). Some others embraced the fact that they can feel hungry and enjoy their food again, stop feeling lethargic, having better concentration, better memory, feeling alive and happy, being useful to their families and the community, or at least not needing anybody to look after them. Qigong practice itself, is a very enjoyable activity that is fun, brings people together, gives them something to do (a very common problem for many elderly). Many older people get irritable, have mood swings, fear death, etc. Qigong can help there as well. It simply balances everything, including emotions, making them happier and easier to communicate with, hence preventing frictions and bringing them closer to their family.
It's quite common in China that relationships improve in many families where there is at least one member of the family practicing Qigong. It can improve to such a degree that once lost relationships (for whatever reason) re-establish and flourish again. As for the most committed practitioners of Qigong, if they reach a high level of practice, then even things like death are no longer mysteries therefore relinquishing the fear of it (death is just another phase our soul takes). And last but not least......
5. Qigong can prevent accidents
As you probably all know, older people are much more susceptible to falls than the rest of the population.** And what would be just a couple of tears to a toddler or slight bruise followed by brushing off the dust and a mere curse from a teenager, a fall of the same degree for an older person could mean fractures, injuries, internal bleeding, heart attack, even death.
There were cases of lonely old people who fell in their homes and because they were unable to get up and call for help, literally starved to death, by the time they were found. In such situations, a mobile phone could play a really crucial role because a landline only two metres away, would mean millions of miles away.
Qigong can help prevent accidents in many ways. Not only can it make a practitioner stronger, healthier and more alert, it can also improve their balance, coordination, sight, hearing and make them more flexible. In other words, they will have less chances to move incorrectly (trip over something, lose balance, fall down stairs) and because they will see better, have stronger grip and so on, they‘ll have much better control of their body.
But even if they do fall, thanks to their stronger joints, ligaments, muscles, bones and better reflexes, it wouldn't cause such terrible damage. Qigong can improve one's bone density, at the same time not causing calcification where it's not welcome, such as in joints and muscles.
The abovementioned are only some of the benefits of regular practice of Qigong. Since there are thousands of different styles of Qigong, it is very important to choose the most appropriate one that would suit older people best. Normally static styles of Qigong where the practitioner stands still, sits or lies down in a fixed position for a long time and meditates are not recommended. Also due to their stamina and bodily limitations, many vigorous dynamic styles are also not appropriate. Styles like Fragrant Qigong that are easy to do, require no mind focusing or any special breathing techniques, take only 10-15 minutes at a time and can be done while sitting, are among the most suitable ones. Yet despite its simplicity and practicality, it still is one of the most powerful healing styles of Qigong today.
* Many studies done in recent years clearly indicate that no matter how old the people who died were, and regardless of disease, their cause of death can always be traced back to a lack of some minerals, vitamins or other nutrients. Qigong can help the absorption and proper distribution of many nutrients inside the body.
** According to Washington Times accidental falls are a leading cause of death among people over 65