‘Chi’ is the vital force, the life force that is transmitted by the breath. “Gong’ can be translated as exercise. So chi gong provides exercises that maximize the benefits of healthy breathing. The great news for seniors is that there are literally hundreds of simple exercises that maximize the benefits of breath and chi. Many exercises can be done while sitting in a chair or even lying down.
What Are the Benefits of Doing Chi Gong?
Blood Oxygen Levels Improve Doing Chi Gong on a regular basis improves one’s blood oxygen levels. We need to have oxygen levels of 90% or above. Doing Chi Gong immediately improves one’s blood oxygen saturation.
Better Muscle Tone This is especially important for the elderly who may be sedentary. Doing simple chi gong exercises on a regular basis improves muscle tone. Like yoga, the improvements are clear and almost immediate.
Feelings of Physical Well-being
One may notice an overall improvement in physical well-being. You just feel better. When you feel good physically, all of your life feels better.
Doing Chi Gong With Physical Impairments
Trouble standing? Problems that keep you in a wheelchair? Bedridden? No problem. All the exercises I will be offering can be done sitting and even lying in a bed. In this first column, I will offer two simple exercises that can be done standing, sitting, or even lying in a bed. Like any exercise, however, the benefits will only be realized by those who do them on a regular basis. Make a commitment to do these exercises at least once a day and preferably twice a day.
Exercise Three - Shoot the Tiger
Standing, or sitting Slowly, while breathing in through the nose, reach the right hand in front across to the opposite shoulder. Pull and arrow from your quiver. Sweep the arrow in a large circle. The opposite hand follows in its own sweeping circle. Now do the same exercise starting with the left hand reaching to the right shoulder. Repeat 7 more times to each side.
Exercise Four -
Snake Sticks Out Its Tongue
Breathing in, the right hand raises to just in front of the mouth. Fingers touch at the tips Now reach out like a tongue coming from the mouth. The left hand comes to the mouth, palm out. Now repeat this using the left hand as a tongue, the right defending the face, palm facing out. Repeat 7 more times to each side.
Come back next time and I will share more Chi Gong exercises.
(The Rev. Jim Norton is a retired Episcopal priest and Sufi teacher. He has been doing Tai Chi and Chi Gong for over 50 years.)
Exercise for the Elderly
Exercise… Is it important? Or is it one of those things that only the extremely athletic and fit people should do? You know, the ones that run marathons or try out for the Olympics. That’s the view that a lot of people have about the word exercise. I’m not going to ever be an athlete, so why even try? Unfortunately, that kind of mindset can really harm your physical and emotional wellbeing and outlook on life, especially as you age. Exercise is extremely important for everyone, especially the elderly. Let’s look at some of the reasons why.
Improves Bone Density and Prevents Muscle Deterioration
As we age, our bone density and muscle mass decreases. This can cause us to become less mobile and also affects our balance. Exercise can help change that. It can help your muscles stay strong and flexible. And can help your balance be more stable as well. Falls are a big risk for the elderly. Nobody wants that! So, having a good exercise regimen can help prevent them. It can also help prevent diseases like osteoporosis.
Prevent or Delay Disease
Regular exercise is a good preventative for many chronic conditions. Studies show that people who have diseases like diabetes, arthritis, and heart disease would all benefit from exercise. It can prevent high cholesterol and stroke. And can also help with getting a good night’s sleep and regulating the bowels.
Mental and Emotional Wellbeing
Endorphins is the magical word here! When we exercise our body releases endorphins into the brain, which causes the feeling of happiness! The release of endorphins helps prevent depression, which is something that many people who transition into an assisted living or nursing home frequently struggle with. Exercise can help you feel accomplished and have a positive outlook on your day. And give your day some meaning. Overall, it can help improve your quality of life as you grow older! And don’t forget about also exercising the mind! Doing things like puzzles, sudoku, crosswords, participating in music and playing games are all ways to keep the mind sharp! This will better your focus and help prevent diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s.
So, how do we motivate ourselves to exercise as we get older?
Switching things up can be one way. Going on walks, stretching, and doing a water aerobics class are all ways that help seniors stay fit, but are also easy on the joints. If you are living in an assisted living home or nursing home, participate in the activities! Joining in with others who are in the same stage of life as you can really motivate you. Activities in the homes can also bring out your inner competition. I didn’t realize that my grandma had a competitive streak until she started participating in the activities in the nursing home. And if the assisted living or nursing home that you live in has therapy, I would like to encourage you to go to it. The therapy workers can help you build/maintain your strength in a safe and healthy way. Overall, just remember that staying active can help provide you with a better quality of life. And I think that is something that deep down everybody wants.