Updated: Feb 24, 2020
Qigong is an ancient Chinese practice that uses specific movement exercises, controlled
breathing as well as mindfulness to promote health and wellness. The Chinese word “Qi”
which is pronounced as “chi” does not have a direct English translation, but its closest
translation could be “vital life energy”. Qi is an important element of Chinese philosophy as
it is believed to be the circulating life energy that is inherent in all creation.
The second part of the word, “gong” means mastery or cultivation. So, the term “qigong”
roughly translates to knowledge of your life energy or vital energy cultivation. The
techniques of bodily movements and breathing, are meant to help you become more aware
and in tune with your life force, thus promoting overall wellness.
Today, qigong is practised not only in China, but various parts of the world. There are many
forms, some of which involve slow movements and breathing that promote health and state of
well-being, while some are more physically engaging and vigorous and often include martial
Qigong for Parkinson’s and dementia condition.
It is well-known that a person of Parkinson's and dementia condition are affected in varying degrees, both mentally and physically. The effects of these conditions, which are common among older adults (but this is not limited to only this population), go beyond memory, cognition and emotion, and can even affect the physical health of the person.
For instance, people who suffer from Parkinson’s and dementia often experience slowed movements, tremors, slurred speech, impaired posture and body balance, loss of automatic movements, rigid muscles, sleep disturbances, etc. When you combine these with the resulting cognitive detriments such as difficulty in thinking and concentration, loss of focus, confusion, loss of problem-solving skills, and declining memory, it is not hard to imagine the plight of a person affected by dementia and Parkinson’s condition.
This is where Qigong can be really helpful in managing the symptoms. The ancient Chinese practice has a wide range of physical and mental health benefits. After all, its main goal is to promote overall wellness and health. Qigong is famous for its ability to improve mental concentration, strengthen the muscles, improve joint mobility, as well as increase your range of motions. Not only these, its unique breathing and mindful movements techniques are known to reduce stress, tension, and anxiety.
Backed up by science.
Several studies have also backed the ability of Qigong to benefit person of Parkinson’s and dementia condition. According to a study which was published in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, a person of dementia can benefit from a holistic exercise program that combines the elements of qigong, yoga, tai chi and mindfulness practice.
For the study, the researchers brought in fifteen dementia persons along with two volunteers and five caregivers to participate in a holistic exercise program that was designed to benefit participants physically, emotionally, intellectually, and socially. By the sixth session, six of the dementia persons could successfully anticipate the physical movements that accompanied certain music. This result suggests that holistic practices such as qigong have the ability to improve procedural memory, which is a type of automatic memory created by repeating actions.
Another study which was published in 2016 studied the “Effects of Health Qigong Exercises on Relieving Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease.” Fifty-four persons living with moderate Parkinson’s disease were randomly divided into a controlled group and an experimental group. While 28 persons were put in the experimental group, 26 persons were placed in the controlled group. During the course of the study, the experimental group was treated with a combination of health qigong exercises and prescribed medication, while controlled group was treated only with medication.
After the study was completed, researchers concluded that health qigong has the ability to significantly reduce the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease in both mild and moderate stages. It could help improve bodily functions such as hand-eye coordination, help with muscle stiffness and rigidity, strengthen joints and muscles, improve body balance, and much more.
From these scientific evidences, it is clear that Qigong has significant benefits for those living with Parkinson’s and dementia condition.
Qigong helps to improve a person’s well-being in general, eve