A ‘Little Bit of Science’ Behind the Benefits of Qigong
Telomeres protect the end of everyone’s chromosomes; they are important in protecting your DNA.
The length of your telomeres is an important indicator of health, the longer they are the healthier your cells and tissues, therefore you! One’s genes do affect your telomeres. Telomeres naturally shorten as one ages. What is extremely interesting is lifestyle can lengthen your telomeres and improve your ageing. Conversely, poor lifestyle choices have also been shown to shorten them.
“Several mind-body techniques, including meditation and Qigong, have been shown to reduce stress and to increase telomerase, the enzyme that replenishes telomeres.” (Blackburn & Epel, 2017;12)
Qigong in essence is a number of flowing movements emphasising breathing, the deliberate action and posture. It can be considered when the practitioner is focusing, to be a moving meditation.
“In a trial of Qigong on cell aging, researchers examined people with chronic fatigue syndrome. They found that people who practiced Qigong for four months had significantly greater increases in telomerase, and reductions in fatigue than people who were assigned to a wait list …” (Blackburn & Epel, 2017; 157)
There is now an understanding of the physiology involved in Qigong; by some experienced as a calming state, also perhaps involving a ‘tingling’ in the fingers. This sensation is due to the parasympathetic nervous system being activated during Qigong which creates dilation of the blood vessels, increasing the flow of blood through the body: This sensation is expressed as “chi/Qi energy flow” in Chinese medicine. No comparable concept is readily expressed in Western medical practices (Blackburn & Epel, 2017; 157).
Whilst Qigong is specifically mentioned in this research, it is certainly plausible to consider Tai Chi and associated practises within the same parameters, and therefore having the same benefits.
Susie Scoullar – Eltham Centre
Blackburn, E & Epel, E (2017) The Telomere Effect. London: Orion Spring
Elizabeth Blackburn was a joint winner of the Nobel Prize for Physiology in 2009 for the discovery of the molecular structure of telomeres which are the ends of chromosomes that behave as protective caps (aglets) and for also discovering the enzyme telomerase that maintains the health of telomeres.