Millions of older adults fall every year, which is probably the biggest reason why many are always looking for ways to improve their balance. We often hear a lot about how yoga, tai chi and pilates are some of the best exercises to improve one’s balance, but now a new fitness trend is becoming popular among seniors: Qigong.
The Health Benefits of Qigong
So what exactly is qigong? Qigong is based on the idea that by doing gentle and graceful movements, energy will be able to flow throughout your entire body and that your body’s balance of yin and yang will be restored. Qigong involves movements that can be done in different orders. Some of these movements include moving one’s head from side to side, raising and lowering one’s arms and even rubbing one’s hands, feet and ears. Simple, right?
Qigong is actually very similar to tai chi as both focus on meditation, breathing techniques and gentle movements. Consequently, the health benefits of qigong are very similar to those associated with tai chi:
- Improving balance
- Lowering blood pressure
- Combating stress
- Easing depression
- Improving one’s overall quality of life
However, there are a few significant differences between these two exercises:
- Unlike tai chi, qigong is not based in martial arts.
- Tai chi often involves a series of long movements that need to be memorized, while qigong involves simple and repetitive movements, making it ideal for seniors.
Qigong for Seniors
Since qigong improves one’s balance, posture, endurance, flexibility and coordination, it’s no wonder seniors are flocking to this new fitness trend. But as an added bonus, you don’t need to spend a lot of money to experience these health benefits of qigong. No equipment is required, but attending a class or purchasing a DVD is the best way to get started. Once you are familiar with the movements, you can do them by yourself in your home or outdoors.
Although qigong is extremely safe for seniors, there are some basic rules you should follow first, especially if this is your first time completing a qigong exercise routine:
- Speak with your doctor beforehand, especially if you have heart disease or if you’re taking any medications that could make you feel dizzy. The last thing you want to do is to experience a fall when doing these relaxing movements.
- Attend a class or purchase a DVD first before trying it on your own. It always helps to view these qigong movements in person to fully understand how to properly perform the movements to reduce your risk of injury. After attending a class, then you can try doing them on your own.
- Just like any other exercise, always be sure to stretch before beginning a qigong routine. Qigong is a great exercise for beginners since it’s very gentle on one’s muscles and joints, but stretching will greatly reduce your risk of straining or spraining a muscle.
Just keep these tips in mind and before you know it, you’ll be a qigong expert!