Taijiquan as a form of rehabilitation and exercise in sedentary populations, pt. 2

Taijiquan, Taiji or Tai Chi, is a martial art that falls within the neija style of Chinese martial arts. Neija simply means internal because its focus is on developing the practitioner’s body from the inside before developing external or martial skill. This internal training is accomplished by practicing slow, controlled movements, deep abdominal breathing, and cultivating the qi so that the practice becomes a form of moving meditation. For a Western audience, the phrase cultivating qi implies a connection to a type of mystical energy force, but the word qi takes on different meanings depending on the context. For the beginning Taiji player, cultivating the qi refers to a special kind of stretch that aligns the joints and tendons to develop the Taiji body.  These proper joint alignments are necessary to develop martial power. It is this process that allows a person to reap the health benefits that result from practicing Taijiquan (Liu, Miller, Burton, & Brown, 2008).

The four family styles of Taijiquan, Chen, Yang, Wu, and Sun, all date their point of origin to the 1800s in the Chen Family village, Chenjiagou. Up until the handgun became more accessible to civilian populations, the focus of Taijiquan was on developing martial skill. Due to the ban placed on practicing martial arts by Chairman Mao just before the Cultural Revolution, there was a paradigm shift among Taiji practitioners. In order to stay viable, the focus slowly shifted to attaining or maintaining health rather than the development of martial skill. It is important to note, however, that in order to reap the full health benefits requires practicing to develop martial skill or what is referred to as peng jin in Taiji principles.

Developing peng jin requires a significant investment of time, but an individual does not need to practice with the intentions of becoming a master of Taijiquan in order to see an improvement in health. In as little as two hours per week  of practice, a person can see a reduction in perceived pain and quality of life improvements(Wang, et al., 2010). Due to the low to moderate exercise intensity, Taijiquan is recommended as an ideal form of exercise in individuals diagnosed with heart disease(Liu, Miller, Burton, & Brown, 2008). Taijiquan has also been found to reduce several of the factors that contribute to metabolic syndrome (Park, et al., 2009).

Due to poor diet habits, inactivity, and increasing levels of stress in our country, the number of people diagnosed with coronary artery disease (CAD) and/or metabolic syndrome continues to increase at an alarming rate(Liu, Miller, Burton, & Brown, 2008)(Park, et al., 2009). Increasing activity levels can reduce or eliminate the risk of metabolic syndrome by eliminating contributory risk factors. Adopting healthier behaviors in CAD patients can reduce  morbidity and mortality while improving their quality of life (Park, et al., 2009). In both cases many patients do not participate in any intervention program due to a lack of motivation, limited access, or high costs associated with the activity(Park, et al., 2009).

Taijiquan is a low cost activity that does not require any special equipment. It can be practiced virtually at any location with a group or alone. It is possible that practicing in a group setting can have indirect influences on a participant’s health and wellness(Posadzki, 2010). There appears to be a relationship between social isolation and declining health, especially in older populations((Dong, Chang, Wong, & Simon, 2012).  Practicing Taijiquan in a group setting may strengthen the physiological effects (Posadzki, 2010). Furthermore the improvements in psychosocial well-being, reduction in the fear of pain, and the overall increase in confidence resulting from Taiji may make participants more likely to continue participating in this form of exercise over other programs(Wang, et al., 2010).

 

 

Resources

Dong, X., Chang, E.-S., Wong, E., & Simon, M. (2012). Perception and negative effects of loneliness in a Chicago Chinese Population of Older Adults. Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics, 151-159.

Liu, X., Miller, Y. D., Burton, N. W., & Brown, W. J. (2008). A Preliminary Study of the Effects of Tai Chi and Qigong Medical Exercise on Inidicators of Metabolic Syndrome, Glycaemic Control, Health-Related Quality of Life, and Psychological Health in Adults with Elevated Blood Glucose. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 704-709.

Park, I. S., Song, R., Oh, K. O., So, H. Y., Kim, D. S., Kim, J. I., . . . Ahn, S. H. (2009). Managing Cardiovascular Risks with Tai Chi in People with Coronary Artery Disease. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 282-292.

Posadzki, P. (2010). The Sociology of Qigong: A qualitative study. Complimentary Therapies in Medicine, 87-94.

Wang, C., Schmid, C., Rones, R., Kalish, R., Yinh, J., Goldenberg, D., . . . McAlindon, T. (2010). A Randomized Trial of Tai Chi for Fibromyalgia. The New England Journal of Medicine, 743-754.

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Creatine Supplementation– A Redaction

a. For healthy individuals, cleared by a physician for regular physical activity, are there any health risks for creatine use?

Creatine is one of the most researched supplements on the market.  There have been negative anecdotal claims regarding creatine supplementation as an unsafe supplement that can cause gastrointestinal problems, muscle cramping, and have negative effects on liver and kidney functions. A review study by Kim et al. looking at past studies’ findings on the safety of creatine supplementation concluded that a supplementation of 20g/day to have no effect on liver or kidney function.  A 2008 study conducted by Cancela et al. looked at creatine monohydrate supplementation on football players over an 8-week period. Blood results showed that creatine supplementation had no adverse effects on blood and urinary clinical health markers, but that it may play a role in improving the efficiency for ATP resynthesis as well as slightly influencing glucoregulation.  Although creatine supplementation appears to be safe in healthy populations, long-term administration in various populations can have different effects.

Cancela, P., Ohanian, C., Cuitiño, E., & Hackney, A. (2008). Creatine supplementation does not affect clinical health markers in football players. British Journal Of Sports Medicine42(9), 731-735.

Kim, H., Kim, C., Carpentier, A. A., & Poortmans, J. (2011). Studies on the safety of creatine supplementation. Amino Acids40(5), 1409-1418.

 

b. Based on the literature, what type of physical activities might benefit from creatine supplementation/what type of activities might creatine have no effect OR worsen performance?

Faraji et al. examined a group of 21 year old collegiate males to see if six days of creatine supplementation would improve their athletic performance in the 100 and 200 meter sprint. They found a significant increase in 100m time from the creatine group, but did not find a significant increase in the 200 meter time. They concluded that the 200 meter time did not improve as much due to the participants not having enough time to develop the conditioning to run the longer distance.

Rawson and Volek found that creatine supplementation short-term weightlifting performance and training volume which can allow for a greater overload during training efforts. They also mention that elevated intramuscular creatine can enhance glycogen levels.

The findings in both these studies support the claim that creatine supplementation can improve athletic performance. Looking at the Faraji and Volek studies as a whole points to creatine supplementation mainly improving activities that rely heavily on the ATP-PC system as its source of energy. Someone who competes in powerlifting or football  will benefit much more from creatine supplementation than someone participating in a high endurance event such as an ironman marathon.

 

 

 

Faraji, H., Arazi, H., Vatani, D., & Hakimi, M. (2010).The Effects of Creatine Supplementation on Sprint Running Performance and Selected Hormonal Responses./ Die effek van kreatienaanvulling (of supplementasie) op naelloopprestasie en geselekteerde hormonale response. South African Journal For Research In Sport, Physical Education & Recreation (SAJR SPER),32(2), 31-39.

Volek, J., & Rawson, E. (2004). Scientific basis and practical aspects of creatine supplementation for athletes.Nutrition20(7/8), 609-614.

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Is Taijiquan (Tai Chi Ch’uan) an effective form of exercise for sedentary populations?

Last fall I attended a bootcamp for new personal trainers in Las Vegas. While there a number of trainers talked about how they want to show their clients how to develop bodybuilder physiques, teach clients effective weightloss strategies, or condition clients as if they were competing in MMA fights. In all of the noise, I became interested in movement. I specifically became interested in movement through internal martial arts such as Taijiquan (Tai Chi).

I believe that a person can benefit from having a nice, strong physique. I believe that more people would have a better quality of life (and better health) if they lost weight. I also believe that being as fit as an MMA fighter can have a lot of benefits, but what I know is that none of this is possible if people do not move well. Specifically, if people do not move well because they have pain, they will be less likely to exercise and more likely to become sedentary. We tend to not like pain.

I have been playing Taiji for about 4 years, and am beginning to start teaching small groups.  The people who have expressed the most interest all have one thing in common—for whatever reason, they do not move well. I have met people with poor balance and stability, arthritis, autoimmune disease, joint pain, and neurological disorders. I am interested in looking at studies that deal with all of these conditions in order to have some scientific validation that Taiji is an effective form of exercise for treating sedentary populations who suffer from debilitating conditions.

 

A few studies I’ll be reading over:

Chyu, M.-C., James, R. C., Sawyer, S. F., Brismee, J.-M., Xu, K. T., Poklikuha, G., et al. (2010). Effects of tai chi exercise on posturography, gait, physical function and quality of life in postmenopausal, women with osteopaenia: a randomized clinical study. Clinical Rehabilitation , 1080-1090.

Guan, H., & Koceja, D. M. (2011). Effects of Long-Term Tai Chi Practice on Balance and H-Reflex Characteristics. The American Journal of Chinese Medicine , 251-260.

Lin, M.-R., Hwang, H.-F., Wang, Y.-W., Chang, S.-H., & Wolf, S. L. (2006). Commimity-Based Tai Chi and Its Effect on Injurious Falls, Balance, Gait, and Fear of Falling in Older People. Physical Therapy , 1189-1201.

McGibbon, C. A., Krebs, D. E., Wolf, S. L., Wayne, P. M., Moxley Scarborough, D., & W, P. S. (2004). Tai Chi and vestibular rehabilitation effects on gaze and whole body stability. Journal of Vestibular Research , 467-478.

Park, I. S., Song, R., Oh, K., So, H., Kim, D., Kim, J., et al. (2009). Managing cardiovascular risks with Tai Chi in people with coronary artery disease. Journal of Advanced Nursing , 282-292.

 

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Update: Arbonne Essentials “30 Days Feeling Fit”

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Mayor’s 5K Challenge: 18 November

http://www.mayorschallenge5k.nashville.gov/

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Creatine Supplementation…does it work?

Despite the anecdotal claims concerning the negative effects of creatine supplementation, the evidence supports the claim that creatine supplementation is safe. In the past, there have been claims that creatine supplementation can cause gastrointestinal problems and muscle cramping, but it is quite possible that there were additional factors involved that caused these adverse reactions. Kim, Kim, Carpentier, and Poortmans’ review study on the safety of creatine supplementation found that creatine supplementation (20g/day) has no effect on liver or kidney function. Additionally they dispelled claims that creatine could have a potential carcinogenic effect. According to their study, the only people at risk for adverse health effects from creatine supplementation are those with preexisting renal disease or persons with a condition which puts them at risk for renal dysfunction (i.e. diabetics, hypertension, metabolic disease, etc.)

Faraji et al. examined a group of 21 year old collegiate males to see if six days of creatine supplementation would improve their athletic performance in the 100 and 200 meter sprint. They found a significant increase in 100m time from the creatine group, but did not find a significant increase in the 200 meter time. They concluded that the 200 meter time did not improve as much due to the participants not having enough time to develop the proper running mechanics. The evidence from the improvement of the 100 meter time supports past studies which claim that creatine supplementation will improve athletic performance.

Faraji et al. discussed previous studies’ claim that creatine supplementation does not improve athletic performance. What the group found was that professional or semi-professional athletes were used in these studies. They concluded that in well-trained athletes their muscles have already achieved the maximum creatine uptake level.  Regardless of how much additional creatine they add to their diet, it is not possible for their muscles to store any more. In amateur athletes and untrained populations, it is possible for their muscles to uptake much more creatine due to them not hitting their maximum level, and therefore, people who have not reached their full athletic potential can still benefit from creatine supplementation.

 

 

 

Kim, H., Kim, C., Carpentier, A. A., & Poortmans, J. (2011). Studies on the safety of creatine supplementation. Amino Acids40(5), 1409-1418.

 

Faraji, H., Arazi, H., Vatani, D., & Hakimi, M. (2010). THE EFFECTS OF CREATINE SUPPLEMENTATION ON SPRINT RUNNING PERFORMANCE AND SELECTED HORMONAL RESPONSES. / Die effek van kreatienaanvulling (of supplementasie) op naelloopprestasie en geselekteerde hormonale response. South African Journal For Research In Sport, Physical Education & Recreation (SAJR SPER),32(2), 31-39.

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30 Days to Fit Day 2: Wiped Out

I’m not exactly sure what I did yesterday, but by around 7 p.m. I was completely wiped out. The day started off pretty well. I had a pomegranate fizz stick, and I made a smoothie. Actually, let me say now that I love cherries and chocolate is growing on me. With this being said, I do not like cherries and chocolate together in a protein shake!

I knocked out my 100/100 along with Day 2 of the Tai Cheng series workouts. I wanted to do some Wuji standing and practice a little I Liq Chuan, but I had to get ready to teach a Senior’s Tai Chi class at the Donelson-Hermitage YMCA across town.

My Mac Powerbook has finally arrived, so I can start filming more videos for this blog now. I owe an old client a few videos, so hopefully I can get in a few “extra” workouts today along with some studying. Well, time to get on my workouts! 

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30 Days to Fit is off to a good start

Day 1 went really well yesterday. I started the day with a Fizz stick, the Tai Cheng Day 1|week 1 workout, my 100/100 workout and a little qigong. I had 2 fizz sticks, my peanut butter shake in the morning and the chocolate shake in the afternoon. For lunch I had 2 bowls of vegetable soup, and for dinner I ate steamed vegetables, brown rice, and steamed salmon.

Between my training sessions, I recorded my measurements. I will post those along with some before pictures, but I need to get to my morning workout session before I have to run to teach a Senior’s Taiji class at the Donelson YMCA later today!

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