Healthy Exercise for Seniors and Non-Athletes

Learn about gyms, exercise, exercise equipment, Yoga, Tai Chi and Qigong & not the advertised propaganda.  Strenuous or endurance exercises can be dangerous!  Scientific studies show that mild activities are beneficial for your mental and physical health.

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Can Exercise be Dangerous, Healthy or Help Lose Weight?

Excellent physical condition is not equivalent to good health. Arnold Schwarzenegger needed to have a heart valve replaced. Jean-Claude Van Damme, a famous martial arts actor, suffers from a hearing loss.

Chronic training for and competing in extreme endurance events such as marathons, ultra-marathons, ironman distance triathlons, and very long distance bicycle races, can cause transient acute volume overload of the atria and right ventricle, with transient reductions in right ventricular ejection fraction and elevations of cardiac biomarkers, all of which return to normal within 1 week. Over months to years of repetitive injury, this process, in some individuals, may lead to patchy myocardial fibrosis, particularly in the atria, interventricular septum, and right ventricle, creating a substrate for atrial and ventricular arrhythmias. Additionally, long-term excessive sustained exercise may be associated with coronary artery calcification, diastolic dysfunction, and large-artery wall stiffening (1).

Any type of exercise that requires a movement to be repeated many times can also lead to repetitive strain injuries and eventually arthritis.

Lifting more than half your body weight can raise your systolic pressure to 370 millimeters mercury. (Normal systolic pressure is below 120 and normal diastolic pressure, measured as the heart rests between beats, is below 80.). Recent research indicates that the increased pressure may cause an aortic dissection, in which the heart’s main artery tears. This requires immediate surgical intervention to stem blood loss resulting in death (2).
Yoga is another popular exercise, frequently recommended to seniors. Today, there are few classical Yoga teachers. Originally, Yoga was a spiritual discipline for enlightenment. It had no connection to health and there were other paths to enlightenment, in addition to the postures or asanas. You could not pay for lessons and only received more instructions if the Guru thought you had made sufficient progress. The common belief is that modern Yoga is safe, especially for seniors. Many injuries resulting from its practice have been documented (3).

Tai Chi has increased in popularity in the western world. It often appears in the background of advertisements of unrelated products. It is recommended for seniors and by the American Arthritis Society, which has its own simplified version. Many health clubs and martial arts studios offer Tai Chi classes.
Unfortunately, Tai Chi has been simplified and distorted just like Yoga. Originally, Tai Chi was a martial art, designed for self-defense with some health benefits. The original form consisted of more than 100 moves. Many shortened versions have been devised. Some do not obey the principals of classical Tai Chi and you would probably obtain the same benefits by walking slowly and waving your arms. Tai Chi is very difficult to learn. Most people don’t have the perseverance and patience to even learn a short form that is taught with the correct postures and principals. More details can be found in (4).

The Nov. 14, 2012, online issue of the J. of the Amer. College of Cardiology, contains a paper about the effects of moderate exercise. Certain biomarkers, which were tied to heart injury that was otherwise undetectable but was associated with a higher risk of death by cardiovascular disease, were used. The study consisted of 2900 subjects over the age of 65. They were tracked for their biomarkers along with their levels of physical activity.
The researchers concluded that not only did the biomarkers lower as physical activity went up, but even moderate amounts of exercise in seniors, dramatically lowered the risk of death by heart attack.

The above research on the effects of moderate exercise lends credence to the remarks of Dr. Oz, M.D., heart surgeon and star of the Doc Oz Show, “If you want to be healthy and live to be 100, practice Qigong.” Qigong (pronounced Chee Kung) is a body/mind/breath coordination discipline, which has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years. Clinical trials have verified that Qigong is helpful in about 200 diseases, ranging from the common cold to cancer (5).

Dr. Oz was not just making wild speculations. Recent research has found a way to predict and increase your life span. Tips of chromosomes are called telomeres. These protective caps, made of repetitive chunks of DNA, keep the rest of the gene-laden chromosomes from disastrously unraveling. Telomeres length has been linked to life span. Longer telomeres have been associated with longer lives and vice versa. A cell’s telomeres shorten a bit each time that the cell divides. Telomeres length is decreased by stress and can be increased by reducing stress! Clinical trials have shown that Qigong reduces stress.
Qigong for health is not strenuous requires little coordination and flexibility. It is easier to learn and practice than Tai Chi or Yoga. Qigong can be done lying, sitting or standing. It can be done anywhere, at any time, and requires no special clothing or equipment. Qigong is practiced by millions of people worldwide. It is the recommended exercise for non-athletes, seniors and the physically challenged (5).

Whether we gain, lose or maintain body weight is dependent upon three things: the number of calories: required to maintain life (our metabolism), burned through activity, and consumed.

According to Macdonald’s calorie chart the calories in the following foods are: Big Mac 570, Large French Fries 540, Coca-Cola Classic 410, Salad 35 and Dressing 160. The total calories in such a meal are 1715. Two such similar meals would contain 3,430 calories.

A 150 lb. person sitting for 15 hours (eating, driving, studying, watching television, etc) burns an average of about 130 calories an hour. Hence 15 hours of sitting would burn 1,950 calories. If you sleep for 8 hours, you would burn about 552 calories. Exercising by vigorous cycling (14- 15.9 mph) for an hour would burn about 704 calories. The total calories burned in a day would be 3,104.

Thus, diet and not exercise is the primary factor in losing weight.

Obese people can lose weight, probably due to the increased rate of metabolism, by practicing Senobi breathing. This is a Qigong breathing technique, which is simple to learn and only requires 1 minute of practice before each meal (7).

References
1. O’Keefe, J.H. et al. Potential Adverse Cardiovascular Effects from Excessive Endurance Exercise. Mayo Clinic Proceedings,
June 2012,
2. Intense Weight Lifting Linked to Fatal Heart Trouble.

http://www.lifeclinic.com/fullpage.aspx?prid=516325&type=1

3. Eisen, M. What is Yoga? Yoga Therapy. http://yang-sheng.com/?p=3835
4. Eisen, M. Are You Really Studying Tai Chi and Is It Effective for Stress? http://yang-sheng.com/?p=1612
5. Liu, T. and Chen, K. eds. Chinese Medical Qigong, Singing Dragon, London, 2010. 6. Eisen, M. Should You Learn Yoga, Tai Chi or Qigong?

http://www.selfgrowth.com/articles/caution-read-this-before-practicing-yoga-tai-chi-or-qigong-0

7. Eisen, M. Senobi Breathing Method for Weight Loss and Asthma. http://www.selfgrowth.com/articles/senobi-breathing-method-for-weight-loss-and-asthma

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Does Tai Chi Fight Diseases And Is It Because of Chi (Qi)?

Some people don’t attend school, some only finish grade school; other students finish high school and attend university or obtain a graduate degree.  You can find successful and happy people who have stopped learning at different levels.  Few people, even after obtaining an advanced degree, must by their nature continue learning, studying and researching for the rest of their lives.

Unfortunately, Tai Chi has become commercialized like Yoga – see

http://voices.yahoo.com/article/9294671/should-learn-yoga-tai-chi-qigong-10813907.html?cat=5

Even grade school teachers know that there is more advanced mathematics than what they teach.  Tai Chi teachers, even if they are happy with their level of knowledge, should know the original purpose and content of Tai Chi and inform their students that there is much more to learn.

If you are really interested in Tai Chi for health you must learn advanced biological sciences and math. to be able to judge correctly whether a clinical study is valid.  If you have worked in a research laboratory, you probably know that data are altered to obtain more grants and for financial gain.  Two recent examples are the faked results by well-known scientists to prove that there is global warming and also promoting the health benefits of red wine.

Even if the scientists are honest, most know very little about Tai Chi and the person that they chose to teach the research subjects might not know much either.  The experiments are difficult to replicate because even 2 “experts” in Tai Chi teach different forms.  In many of the trials there are not enough subjects and there are no control groups.  A control group of people walking slowly and waving their arms might have produced the same result.  The length of the trials is too short and they should really be entitled “Effects produced in learning Tai Chi”.  It takes many months to learn even a shortened form correctly.  There are no trials yet that have lasted for many years to establish longevity claims.

Clinical trials that suggest positive results should be repeated with a larger number of subjects, over a longer period of time and with a control group.

To use Tai Chi to treat a particular disease a diagnosis is required, since Tai Chi is a form of Qigong.  Using Qigong properly requires years of study – for example, see or read the Qigong books by Jerry Johnson at

http://www.qigongmedicine.com/catalog.php?act=view_prod&i=&l=&sid=&id_categ=3195

or Chinese Medical Qigong, Eds. T. Liu & K. Chen, Singing Dragon, 2010.  However, for serious diseases it is better to use Qigong, because the patient will die before they learn even a simplified form of Tai Chi properly.

Qi is a basic concept used in Chinese medicine and Tai Chi.  The health effects are explained in terms of Qi flow.  Deadly strikes to acupoints (Dim Mak) are hidden in the main form and 2-person forms.  The effects of striking these points and treating the resulting injury are also explained in terms of Qi.  Although Qi cannot be explained scientifically, there is recent research which is getter close to explaining it – see

http://martyeisen.wordpress.com/2010/05/10/some-modern-scientific-theories-of-qi/

http://martyeisen.wordpress.com/2010/05/10/the-concept-of-qi/

http://yang-sheng.com/?p=1159

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Should You Learn Yoga, Tai Chi or Qigong?

Yoga and Tai Chi have become popular worldwide.  They appear in commercials and are taught in many fitness and community centers.  Seniors and the sedentary are persuaded that Yoga and Tai Chi are ideal for their health.  In addition, Tai Chi is described as being very easy to learn and practice.  Not as many people are familiar with Qigong, a mind, body, breathing discipline which originated in China thousands of years ago.

These arts have become westernized, commercialized and altered from their original purposes and forms.  The following information will encourage you to study, learn and research about the history, theory, safety and true purposes of these arts before choosing one of these disciplines to study.

There are hardly any Yoga teachers that teach Yoga for its originally intended purpose. Yoga had no connection with health, but was just a spiritual discipline; you could not pay for true Yoga lessons – see “What is Yoga? Yoga therapy?”  at

http://voices.yahoo.com/what-yoga-yoga-therapy-9104859.html?cat=5

Be careful in practicing Yoga poses, especially seniors and the sedentary; don’t believe the so-called experts.  See its dangers at

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/08/magazine/how-yoga-can-wreck-your-body.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all

Unfortunately, Tai Chi is following the same path as Yoga.  Originally Tai Chi was a martial art and had over 100 postures.  This main, solo long form required about 5 to six years of dedicated practice to learn correctly.  In addition, there were 2- men forms for self-defense.

Nowadays, there are very few teachers that know the 2-men, self-defense forms.  Even those that teach Tai Chi for health don’t rigorously follow the principles and claim that the form they teach ( 1- 37 postures or more, but usually less than the long form) has the same benefits as the long form.  Logic tells you that 37 postures will not give the same exercise and energy flow as over a hundred.– see “Are You Really Practicing Tai Chi and Is It Effective for Stress?” at

http://yang-sheng.com/?p=1612

Even teaching the Chen Man Ching short form for health correctly is difficult.  The student must have the dedication of a ballet dancer and realize constant daily practice is required.  After teaching 100’s of students, less than 1% can even learn this short form.

Prospective Tai Chi students should be informed of the true scope of this art.  Most don’t have any idea of the complexities of Tai Chi and are just interested in improving their health.  These should be persuaded to study a simple form of Qigong for health.  My experience is that nearly 100% of students can learn the Six Healing Sounds.  See “Which Should Study Tai Chi or Qigong? at

http://voices.yahoo.com/tai-chi-qigong-which-study-9082195.html?cat=68

Seniors and the sedentary, especially if only interested in improving or maintaining their health, should learn and practice Qigong for health rather than Yoga or Tai Chi.  Qigong is non-strenuous and easier to learn and practice than Yoga or Tai Chi.  Qigong has the added advantage that it is effective in helping about 200 diseases.

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Weight Loss: No Exercise Diet Pills or Cost!

The title sounds too good to be true. However, it is. You can learn a recently discovered method to lose weight that requires no exercise, diet, pills or cost in about 5 minutes. The difficult part is to have the discipline to practice for one minute before every meal.
This method is a form of Qigong (pronounced chee kung), a Chinese therapy thousands of years old. It consists of mental as well as physical maneuvering which simultaneously adjust body posture, breathing, and the mind. Other Qigong methods can prevent disease, increase longevity, help retain your ability to work and treat diseases. They are also easy to learn.
Qigong for health is not strenuous, requires little coordination or flexibility and can be done lying, sitting or standing. It can be practiced anywhere, at any time, and requires no special clothing or equipment. Thus, it is ideal for seniors and the physically challenged. Qigong is easier to learn and practice than Yoga, Tai Chi, Pilates or Zomba.
Dr. Oz, a heart surgeon and the star of the TV show “The Doctor Oz Show” stated, “If you want to be healthy and live to 100, do Qigong.” Dr. Oz was not just making wild speculations. Recent research has found a way to predict and increase your life span. Tips of chromosomes are called telomeres. These protective caps, made of repetitive chunks of DNA, keep the rest of the gene-laden chromosomes from disastrously unraveling. Telomeres length has been linked to life span. Longer telomeres have been associated with longer lives and vice versa. A cell’s telomeres shorten a bit each time that the cell divides. Telomeres length is decreased by stress and can be increased by reducing stress! Qigong not only reduces stress has been shown to help about 200 diseases.
Conferences on the scientific study of Qigong have been held in the U.S. and China. Qigong has been shown to improve respiration, induce the relaxation response, cause favorable changes in blood chemistry, and produce changes in EEG indicating improved mental states. Clinical trials have shown the efficacy of Qigong in reducing stress, delaying aging effects, prolonging life, preventing illness and curing many chronic diseases including paralysis and cancer.
One scientific survey of aged practitioners revealed that they were in good health and appeared younger than a second group of non-practitioners. Their average blood pressure was normal and 93% had normal hearing and good memories. The non-practicing elders had a higher average blood pressure, 25% had hypertension, 50% had vision problems, 76% had hearing problems and 35% had lost their ability to work. After doing Qigong for 5 months, 52% of them could work & made significant physiological improvements.
Some scientific articles showing the physical and mental benefits of Qigong appear at

http://yang-sheng.com/?author=15

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Tai Chi or Qigong: Which Should You Study?

Tai Chi has increased in popularity in the western world. It often appears in the background of advertisements of unrelated products. It is recommended for seniors and by the American Arthritis Society, which has its own simplified version. Many health clubs and martial arts studios offer Tai Chi classes.

Tai Chi is a Chinese art designed to protect oneself from unarmed and armed attacks and illnesses. It is both a martial art and a method for preventing and treating illnesses. Information about its history and concepts can be found in the article “Are You Really Learning Tai Chi and Is It Effective for Stress?” at

http://yang-sheng.com/?p=1612

Qigong, pronounced Chee Kung, is not as well-known as Tai Chi and is frequently given as an auxiliary exercise before or after doing Tai Chi. In Chinese “Gong” means work or hard task. Qi can be translated as life energy. Qigong is the task of learning to control the flow of Qi through your body by using breath, movement and meditation. It is a Chinese discipline that is at least 5000 years old.

The main divisions of modern Qigong (Chi Kung) are: Spiritual, Medical, Martial and Athletic depending on the main goal of the practitioner. However, there is an overlap between these branches

Medical Qigong is a branch of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). TCM postulates that health is the result of smooth Qi circulation, without accumulation or deficiency in any part of the body, while disease is the result of poor Qi circulation. Once the flow of Qi is balanced, the body tends to heal itself.

Here Qigong will be used to denote Medical Qigong for preventing and treating diseases and will not include Tai Chi, which is also a form of Qigong. More information about Qigong can be found in “What is Qigong/” at

http://www.selfgrowth.com/articles/Eisen1.html

If you want to learn classical Tai Chi you must find a knowledgeable instructor. Many classes only offer shortened, altered forms that are supposed to be for health purposes only. Many of these so-called Tai Chi forms are not taught according to Tai Chi principles and are some sort of new-age dance. You can save money and probably get the same health benefits from slow walking and waving your arms. Even if you find an instructor that teaches a classical long form and you want to learn self-defense, investigate if 2-person Tai Chi martial art forms are taught and not self-defense based on Karate or some other martial art.

Many health benefits have been ascribed to the practice of Tai Chi. However, there are a few problems with these studies. The scientist conducting these studies may not be an expert in Tai Chi and so selects an incompetent teacher for the subjects. The form may have been altered by the instructor and so another teacher may not teach the same, exact form in another study. Sometimes the sample size is too small. If the subjects are required to practice at home some will be fanatic and others barely practice and accurate reports of practice times are difficult to obtain. Finally, Tai Chi, even shortened versions for health, require years of study before the subject is really doing Tai Chi. Hence, the studies should be called the effects of trying to learn Tai Chi. More long-term studies are required to verify the beneficial effects of Tai Chi.

Clinical trials have shown that Qigong is helpful in about 200 diseases, even more diseases than Tai Chi. There are many different forms of Qigong. Some are classical and others are made-up or modified by a teacher. The criticisms given above for Tai Chi research apply to Qigong research.

Learning Tai Chi takes self-discipline to practice daily and tenacity not to give up. Those who have
studied arts, like dance or music, that require constant practice are more likely to succeed in learning Tai Chi. Tai Chi requires more coordination than some forms of Qigong. A good memory is also helpful. Nevertheless, learning Tai Chi only for health requires years of study.

Seniors interested in preventing or treating illnesses should consider learning Qigong rather than Tai Chi, especially if they have memory or coordination problems. There are health forms of Qigong that are much easier to learn. For example, a Qigong method for losing weight can be learned in about a minute. The hard part is to practice it before every meal.

For life threatening diseases use Qigong. You may die before you learn Tai Chi. Some hospitals have drop-in Qigong classes. Such classes are not useful for treating serious diseases. Usually, you are not informed that you must practice for hours every day. Find a specialist in medical Qigong who can give you a TCM type of diagnosis and construct an individualized Qigong protocol based on the diagnosis.

Even in China, it is difficult for patients to practice Qigong for hours. Patients join a social Qigong group or are placed in a hospital.

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What Is Yoga? Yoga as a Therapy?

Most people have erroneous ideas about classical Yoga. Yoga was a spiritual discipline. There were moral precepts and prohibitions that disciples had to follow. In addition, there could be dietary restrictions. Yoga had other paths to enlightenment besides asanas, breathing and meditation, such as, prayer, faith and knowledge. The chosen path was determined by the Guru after analyzing the individual. In some instances any form or exercise was contraindicated. No connection to physical conditioning or health appears in the Vedic literature. You could not pay for Yoga lessons and only received new instructions when your Guru thought you had made sufficient progress.  See-

 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yoga 

Be cautious about recommending so-called Yoga to patients, especially the elderly. Patients with injuries from practicing Yoga are a common occurrence in our Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) clinic. Many teachers have made-up their own style ranging from almost no stretching to extreme contortions, not holding postures, practicing in a sauna-like room, using weights, etc. 

Generally, scientists have little knowledge of Yoga and so cannot select qualified teachers for their subjects. The sample size is frequently too small and there is no control group. For example, recent research shows that regular, moderate stretching improves sport’s performance, probably by increasing muscle strength. A control group that just stretches could be used. Finally, experiments are difficult to duplicate because many teachers have their own style. 

Another reason why such clinical trials are difficult to evaluate is the subjects are not tracked daily. Anyone who has taught any subject that requires daily practice knows that some people do not practice at home while others are fanatical. In addition, the pupil’s report of the amount of daily practice is often erroneous. 

The rational use of “Yoga” as a therapy requires research into incorporating it with Ayurvedic medicine, just as Qigong is a branch of TCM – see 

http://www.banyanbotanicals.com/yoga/yogaandayurveda/ 

Postures should be individually assigned after an Ayurvedic diagnosis. This requires training in Ayurvedic medicine to examine the patient. The diagnosis consists of a past medical history, looking, feeling, questioning the patient and examining the patient. This includes Ayurvedic pulse taking. Then you must know the effects of the postures in Ayurvedic terms (pitta,vata,kapha) in order to select proper postures. The same procedure should be used for selecting proper breathing and meditation exercises. 

Finally, to satisfy western doctors, the results should be explained in terms of western  science.

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