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Qi Gong a Powerful Stress Reliever, Health Boost During SARS Epidemic

By: Sam Gaines, Staff Writer

A study of chronically ill people in Hong Kong during the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak shows that those who practice Qi Gong, the ancient art of breathing and movement, experienced significant health benefits from the practice. In fact, of the 98 people studied, none contracted SARS even though all were in high-risk categories.

The research project was originally designed to study the impact of Qi Gong on chronic illness. When the SARS outbreak occurred, researchers at the Chinese University of Hong Kong extended the study’s parameters to monitor response to participants’ stress of living through the epidemic. Many people in Hong Kong practiced Qi Gong to control stress levels as the epidemic continued, in part because there was no other treatment available to fight the disease at that time.

Researchers believe that the practice gave people a sense of control over their own health, as it is a trusted and widely accepted practice in Hong Kong. It also provided gentle exercise for the study participants, most of whom were in their 40s and 50s, and helped them cope with the emotional challenges of being stigmatized because they were considered at high-risk of contracting SARS.

Source: Journal of Clinical Nursing, April 2007

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