Background: Sleep disturbance is a major problem for older adults, calling for the development of alternative medicine techniques to help improve sleep quality in this population.
Objectives: The purpose of this study was to explore the effectiveness of a Baduanjin exercise program on sleep quality in Taiwanese elderly.
Design: A randomized controlled trial, longitudinal research design was employed.
Setting and participants: This study was conducted in an urban area of northern Taiwan. The inclusion criteria for participants were as follows: (1) community-dwelling older adults age 60 years or older; (2) no regular exercise within 6 months; (3) able to communicate; and (4) independent in self-care. Subjects were excluded if they had (1) depression tendency as demonstrated by the Chinese version of the Geriatric Depression Score of eight or higher; (2) impaired mobility; or (3) unstable health status. A total of 202 older people were screened for this study, 87 of whom were eligible according to the inclusion criteria. Of these, 55 completed the 12-week study.
Methods: Fifty-five participants were randomly assigned to the exercise group (27) or the control group (28). Those in the exercise group received 12 weeks of Baduanjin exercise training, while those in the control group had no intervention. The Pittsburg Sleep Quality Index was administered to subjects at four time points: before the intervention, and at the 4th, 8th, and 12th week after intervention.
Results: Subjects in the Baduanjin exercise group had significantly improved overall sleep quality, subjective sleep quality, sleep latency, sleep duration, sleep efficiency, and daytime dysfunction after 12 weeks of intervention (p<0.001), while those in control group showed no significant difference in sleep quality. Compared with the control group, the Baduanjin exercise group reported significantly better sleep quality after four weeks of intervention which was maintained throughout the 12-week exercise period.
Conclusions: This study confirmed that the Baduanjin exercise program can improve sleep quality for Taiwanese community-dwelling older adults. We recommend application of this simple, gentle exercise program in older persons to improve their sleep quality.
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