The Health Ministry had invited me to brief some of the officials with the possibility of encouraging our senior citizens to take it up as a health-promoting activity.
Our Health Ministry should be congratulated for having a very positive attitude towards Traditional/Complementary Medicine ( T/CM ). Lately many of its congresses and seminars have included T/CM as topics of discussion. In fact, its 4th International T/CM Conference and Exhibition has just concluded ( theme: The Paradigm Shift Towards Integrated Medicine ), and there was a special request for our members to demonstrate Qigong at the event.
I have also noted that T/CM is also one of the subjects to be discussed in a major national medical conference on cancer next year. So it seems that T/CM, including Qigong, is gradually being accepted as possible contributors to the treatment and wellbeing of the patients in an integrative approach to therapy.
I have always believed that the patients will benefit most if the best of modern, natural and complementary therapies can be integrated and offered to them. However, T/CM has to improve the validation of the claimed effectiveness of the different therapies for it to be more widely accepted by mainstream medicine. In other words, T/CM must move towards evidence-based practice just as modern medicine is.
QIGONG IS EXCELLENT FOR SENIOR CITIZENS AND ALL ABOVE 40 YEARS
I would like to invite all our senior citizens to learn and practise Qigong because it is ideal for them. Most of the exercises are soft and can be easily performed by older persons. Although all exercises, even plain walking, are beneficial, there is much to be gained by practising Qigong. Remember, our life-time risk of getting cancer is about 1 in 4, and the risk for older people is more.
The number-one killer is still heart disease, and this can be avoided with healthy diet, maintaining ideal weight, controlling cholesterol and sugar levels, avoiding smoking and stress, and most importantly, regular aerobic exercise. All of the above also prevent stroke and cancer. In fact the four main risk factors for these disease are collectively called ‘Syndrome X’ or ‘ Chronic-Disease Risk Factor Syndrome’. These risk factors are hypertension, hyperglycemia/diabetes, dyslipidemia ( abnormal lipid levels ) and overweight/obesity. These are usually associated with hyperinsulinemia ( abnormally high insulin level due to the body’s resistance to its effects ). When present, they increase the likelihood of developing the fatal and debilitating major chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, stroke,kidney failure and others. A survey done In Malaysia in 1999 among adults 40 years and above showed that 61% had one or more of these risk factors, and 1% actually had all four risk factors.
Physical fitness through regular aerobic exercise is the strongest determinant of health and longevity compared to the other risk factors. So everyone should indulge in at least 20-30 minutes of aerobic exercises 3 times per week as our Health Ministry has been campaigning for us to do so for many years. Brisk walking is perhaps the easiest to comply with to achieve the desired health effects because we all have to walk a lot nowadays ( those who frequent KLIA will agree with me ).
If you know Qigong, you can incorporate qi-enriching modifications to your exercises so that you will get both benefits. You will increase your cardiovascular health through improved aerobic capacity and muscular tone and strength; and also increase the health enriching life-force or qi.
Ordinary Qigong-walk is slow and relaxing. It increases qi, improves oxygen utilization, and calms the mind. Aerobic exercises like brisk walking increase physical endurance, increase oxygen intake, and also give you a good, relaxed feeling after the exercise. If you do brisk Qigong-walk, you will get the combined benefits. I even do the Qigong-walk on the treadmill whenever I am in the gym. The benefit is tremendous. Together, Qigong and aerobics can definitely help avoid Syndrome X.
So Qigong, in combination with aerobic exercises and other good health practices, is ideal for senior citizens who need extra protection from all the serious diseases which are most likely to manifest when we age. In fact, all those 40 years and above should consider it too in view of the high prevalence of Syndrome X. Better still, start when you are younger and preserve good, vibrant health and avoid cancers and other diseases when you grow old.