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Baduanjin Qigong Helps People with Chronic Fatigue

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February 19, 2015 -
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)-like illness is a complex, medically unexplained, and debilitating condition, which is characterized by persistent fatigue of at least 6 months. To date, no curative treatment is available for CFS and the treatment is often symptom based.

Researchers from Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Hong Kong collaborate on a project to evaluate the effectiveness of Baduanjin Qigong exercise on sleep, fatigue, anxiety, and depressive symptoms in CFS)-like illness Baduanjin (also called Eight-Section Brocades) is one of the most common forms of Chinese health Qigong exercise, characterized by its simple, slow, and relaxing movements. The exercise involves 8 simple movements, according to the traditional Chinese medicine theory, each of which can enhance the function of certain organs or parts of the body. As Baduanjin Qigong is very easy to learn and less physically or cognitively demanding, it is popular in the Chinese population as a safe Qigong exercise to promote health. The secondary objective was to investigate the dose-response relationship between Qigong exercise and symptom improvement.

One hundred fifty participants, with CFS-like illness, aged between 31 and 47, were randomly assigned toto Qigong and waitlist. Sixteen 1.5-hour Qigong lessons were arranged over 9 consecutive weeks. Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index Chalder Fatigue Scale, and Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale were assessed at baseline, immediate post-treatment, and 3-month post-treatment. The amount of Qigong self-practice was assessed by self-report.

Repeated measures analyses of covariance showed significant differences for the "subjective sleep quality" and "sleep latency" items, favoring Qigong exercise. Improvement in "subjective sleep quality" was maintained at 3-month post-treatment. Significant group by time interaction was also detected for the Chalder Fatigue Scale and Depression Scale anxiety and depression scores. The number of Qigong lessons attended and the amount of Qigong self-practice were significantly associated with sleep, fatigue, anxiety, and depressive symptom improvement.

The researchers concluded that Baduanjin Qigong was an efficacious and acceptable treatment for sleep disturbance in CFS-like illness.

This study was published in the December 2014 issue of Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine.




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