AsianScientist (Dec. 17, 2013) – Mind-body exercises such as Tai Chi, Chi Gong and Yoga not only improve physical fitness but also alleviate mood disorders such as anxiety and depression, according to a study.
The Chen Wai Wai Vivien Foundation Therapeutic Physical Mental Exercise Center at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) conducted a large-scale telephone survey from May to July 2013 to examine exercise patterns and their relationship with the risk of mood disorders among Hong Kong people.
The results reveal that regular mind-body exercise, such as Tai Chi, Chi Gong and Yoga, can reduce the risk of mood disorders.
The study, involving a random sample of 2,744 Hong Kong citizens aged between 18 and 75, showed that only half of the respondents performed ‘regular’ exercise (defined as exercising at least two times a week, each time lasting 30 minutes or more) while 6.4 percent of respondents did not perform any exercise. The research also indicates that their choice of exercise varies by gender, age and education level.
The Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K6) was adopted in the survey to assess the respondents’ risk of mood disorders. Results show that only 3.7 percent of the respondents who had regular exercise have a high risk of mood disorders, as compared to those with non-regular exercise (6.5 percent) and no exercise at all (13.7 percent).
It also reveals that the risk of mood disorders of people who had regular exercise for less than one year (7.1 percent) is 1.7-fold higher than those of people who had regular exercise for more than one year (4.2 percent).
Exercises such as Tai Chi, Chi Gong and Yoga are effective in reducing the risk of mood disorders, according to the study. Only 4 percent of the respondents who performed these exercises have a high risk of mood disorders, as compared to aerobic exercise (4.8 percent) and walking (6.2 percent). This indicated that although walking has a great impact in physical fitness, it has a lesser effect on emotional health.
“The findings are encouraging which not only facilitate our understanding of the relationship between exercise and emotional health status, but also provide an important baseline for public education and further research in Hong Kong,” said Professor Linda Lam, principal investigator and director of The Chen Wai Wai Vivien Foundation Therapeutic Physical Mental Exercise Center.
Professor Lam suggested that not all people with mood disorders may need, tolerate, or have easy access to conventional treatments such as drug therapy. A tailor-made program based on a professionally selected mix of exercises can be developed into an important adjunctive intervention to help an individual recover from mood disorders, she said.
Source: The Chinese University of Hong Kong; Photo: UrbaneWomenMag/Flickr/CC.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.