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Adapting Qigong for Healthy Aging Low-income Latino Adults

November 23, 2021 - Research translating the evidence for the benefit of mind-body exercise in older Latinos with limited access to community-based healthy aging programs is sparse.

Several universities in Texas, including the University of Texas at San Antonio, the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, University of the Incarnate Word, and The University of Texas at Austin, teamed up with Guizhou University of Traditional Chinese Medicine in China, to evaluate the feasibility of Function Improvement Exercises for Older Sedentary Community-Dwelling Latino Residents (FITxOlder), a Community Health Worker (CHW)-led, mobile technology-facilitated Chinese Qigong mind-body exercise program for healthy aging and to explore its impact on physical and cognitive function and quality of life (QoL) in older community-dwelling low-income Latino adults.

This study was designed as a Stage 1 feasibility study to develop and pilot-test FITxOlder. In Phase 1 (Stage 1A), a working group of seniors, CHWs, and senior center staff guided the adaptation of Chinese Qigong into a healthy aging program. In Phase 2 (Stage 1B), 49 older Latino adults participated in a 3-arm controlled study to test the feasibility and preliminary effect of CHW-led FITxOlder on physical and cognitive function and QoL measures over 16 weeks.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the implementation of the study protocol, the research team found favorable results regarding participant recruitment, retention, and fidelity of implementation. Notable findings included an 89.3% participant retention, 79.4% of the participants completed at least 70% of the weekly exercise goal, and no report of adverse events. The effects on intervention outcome measures were modest.

The team concluded that FITxOlder is feasible for promoting healthy aging in older Latino adults; future research needs to compare its feasibility with other low-impact exercise programs for healthy aging using a randomized controlled trial. The study is published by JMIR Aging in November 2021.




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