Health Qigong: An Outstanding Way of Self-Care

July 15, 2022, news announced that “Alexandria, Ont. hospital closing emergency department overnights due to staff shortage”. Shortages of health workers are not happening only in Ontario. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), due to shortages of health workers, the threat of global disease outbreaks, and the high cost of health system care, we need to go beyond the health systems and be aware that self-care and self-care interventions become strategies for enhancing health and well-being. We need to go beyond the health systems. WHO also gives the definition of self-care as “individuals, families and communities’ promoting and maintaining their own health, preventing disease, and coping with illness and disability, with or without the support of a health worker.” We should know that healthcare cannot rely on health providers alone, and we should also know how to manage some health issues through self-care. Health Qigong is a Chinese traditional exercise that combines movement, conscious breathing, and mental conditioning with active relaxation. Health Qigong is an outstanding method of self-care as it has been proven to help us improve physical and mental health, prevent disease from developing, and befit everyone to practice. Four kinds of Health Qigong are being practiced widely in China: 

  • Wu Qin Xi (Five Animals Play): Movements that imitate animals’ play and lead us to connect with nature.  
  • Ba Duan Jin (Eight Brocades): Movements that enhance functions of internal organs and guide us to recognize nature’s interconnection.  
  • Liu Zi Jue (Six Healing Sounds): Sounds and simple movements that release disease-causing Qi.  
  • Yi Jin Jing (Muscle-Tendon Change Classic): Stretching and strengthening movements that is related to Zen tradition. 

Practicing Health Qigong improves our quality of life. He Shaolong, the founder of the Canadian Chinese Health Qigong Organization in Toronto, is a good example. He is enthusiastic about Health Qigong because, after years of allergy symptoms, a half year of Health Qigong regular practice reduced them. Health Qigong is an excellent self-care method for health and well-being.   

We all like to have a healthy life. One key concept in self-care is illness prevention rather than disease treatment after it has occurred, which may be too late. Health Qigong can enhance our health and prevent diseases due to its medical foundation. Known as Daoyin in ancient China, Health Qigong is one of the therapeutic methods of self-care intervention that are mentioned in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Aside from its TCM roots, modern medical research on Health Qigong has yielded positive results for physical disease prevention as well as stress prevention. Massachusetts General Hospital research indicates that “Qigong has the potential to play a role in the prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation of respiratory infections, such as COVID-19. Potential mechanisms of action include stress reduction, emotion regulation, strengthening of respiratory muscles, reduction of inflammation, and enhanced immune function”. Other Research also shows that Qigong practice reduces stress, hypertension, depression, and anxiety by enhancing sleep quality, cognitive performance, and stress assessment. Health Qigong is such an amazing self-care method that can help us take charge of our health.   

Sometimes regarded as Chinese yoga, Qigong has similar benefits to yoga. For self-care intervention, Health Qigong is even better. I have been practicing yoga for over 25 years and have had training in therapeutic yoga. Now I include Health Qigong in my daily practice because of its superior effects. Recently, my shoulder has been aching. I tried every yoga posture I knew that might help, but none worked. I then did the Five Animals Play, which was developed by the ancient Chinese physician Huatuo, and I felt huge relief. The theoretic foundations of Health Qigong and yoga are different. Yoga was originally a spiritual practice; in contrast, Health Qigong is a form of Traditional Chinese Medicine that is used for healthcare and is designed for self-care. In addition to its benefits, Health Qigong is suitable for everyone to practice. For example, Ba Duan Jin can be done by people who have chronic fatigue syndrome-like illness and arthritis, such as knee osteoarthritis, and helps alleviate the symptoms. To take control of our health, we should take advantage of Health Qigong.   

In conclusion, faced with a dearth of health professionals, pandemic life, and high health care costs, we should take responsibility for our health and well-being in the form of self-care. Recognizing the importance of self-care and recognizing the values of Health Qigong will certainly benefit individuals as well as health systems. Health Qigong is a wonderful exercise and should be given more attention as a self-care method. 

Notes:

  1. Alexandria, Ont. hospital closing emergency department overnights due to staff shortage.” 15 July 2022.
  2. Self-care Month”, World Health Organization, 24 June 2022.
  3. Health Qigong Management Centre of General Administration of Sport of China, Health Qigong [健身氣功] (Beijing: People’s Sports Publishing House, 2005).
  4. VCD, Health Qigong [健身氣功 ] (Beijing: Beijing Sport University Audio & Video Press).
  5. He Shaolong: Calling on More Canadians to Practice Health Qigong.” Sports China, 31 July, 2018.
  6. Yellow Emperor’s Canon of Medicine: Plain Conversation, chapter 12 Discussion on Different Therapeutic Methods for Different Diseases. Translated into by Li Zhaoguo. Xi’an: World Publishing Corporation, 2005.
  7. Feng, Fan et al. “Qigong for the Prevention, Treatment, and Rehabilitation of COVID-19 Infection in Older Adults.The American journal of geriatric psychiatry: official journal of the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry.
  8. van Dam, Karen. “Individual Stress Prevention through Qigong.” International journal of environmental research and public health.
  9. Chan, Jessie S M et al. “Qigong exercise alleviates fatigue, anxiety, and depressive symptoms, improves sleep quality, and shortens sleep latency in persons with chronic fatigue syndrome-like illness.” Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine: eCAM.
  10. An, Bingchen et al. “Baduanjin alleviates the symptoms of knee osteoarthritis.Journal of alternative and complementary medicine (New York, N.Y.)
  11. Marks, Ray. “Qigong Exercise and Arthritis.” Medicines (Basel, Switzerland)

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