Exercise Is Medicine—Qigong for Functional Fitness

Have you heard the phrase “exercise is medicine?” It highlights how keeping active and fit can help you avoid health problems that otherwise might require medication. More and more these days, we appreciate exercise as a valuable tool to help you maintain or improve your health and functional fitness.

Functional fitness is the fitness necessary to function optimally throughout your day. And what could happen in a day? Everything from getting out of from bed, making the bed, chasing/preparing the kids for school, walking/sitting (here and there), chasing/picking up the kids from school, grocery shopping, doing laundry/dishes… I could go on and on. What does all of this require – ENERGY!

All physical activities require energy — this is nothing new. In fact several thousand years ago practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine collaborated with philosophers and marital artists of that era to develop what was then called Dao Yin exercises. They allowed its users to not only function better but also to survive. Today we know these exercises as Qigong Exercises (pronounced “chee gung”).

Qi literally means the energy derived from eating rice and breathing (sustenance). Qong is the operative word in this blog as it means “to put in effort over time” or exercise.

Walking, running and riding bikes are good exercises, but they’re generally performed in one only direction (forward). They don’t address all the muscles and joints of the body in multiple directions.

Did you know you have over six hundred muscles and 230 joints? To address all the muscles/joints of the body and improve our functional abilities, we need to engage in functional exercises. These types of exercises, such as CrossFit, are now becoming more popular in fitness facilities and with people who want to improve their overall fitness.

I recommend getting back to nature for maintaining your functional fitness.

The exercises of Qigong are based on observing nature. The types of exercises performed in Qigong are exercises derived from watching animals such as the horse, the tiger, the bear, the crane and even the turtle. By moving like these animals, you’ll be sure to move in all directions using multiple muscle groups, as well as engaging in activities that challenge your functional coordination and dynamic balance.

If you want to improve your functional fitness, start by “crouching like a tiger” each time you rise up from deep couch sitting.

Be well!

Meet the Author

John Burns, DPT, MPT, MSOM is the Clinical Services Coordinator Acupuncture in the Aurora Health Care Department of Integrative Medicine in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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The information presented in this site is intended for general information and educational purposes. It is not intended to replace the advice of your own physician. Contact your physician if you believe you have a health problem.

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