Objectives: Qigong exercise has been shown to improve physical and psychological well-being in adults with chronic conditions, but little is known about the feasibility and acceptability of engaging in a qigong exercise program in community-dwelling older adults in the United States. The purpose of this study was to explore the feasibility, acceptance, and adherence to an 8-week qigong exercise intervention in community-dwelling American older adults.
Design: An exploratory study design.
Setting: Two senior centers in southern Connecticut.
Subjects: Forty-five community-dwelling older adults aged 65 to 85 years enrolled.
Intervention: A supervised 1-h health qigong exercise session twice weekly for 8 weeks.
Outcome measures: An investigator-designed questionnaire with seven items that were rated on a 1 to 6 scale, with higher scores indicating better results, and nine open-ended questions were used to obtain data on feasibility and acceptability. Adherence was calculated as the proportion of the 16 planned sessions attended.
Results: Of the 45 older adults enrolled, 6 never started and 6 withdrew, with 33 evaluable at the end of the intervention. The mean age of the sample was 74.8 years; the majority were female (84.4%) and white (91.1%). Mean scores on aspects of difficulty, acceptability, suitability, or effectiveness of qigong exercise were all ≥5. Participants identified benefits of qigong exercise, such as calming and relaxing feelings, inner peace, better balance, and flexibility. Attendance rate was 78.8%, with 94% performing qigong exercise at least once weekly outside the class. All participants indicated that they would recommend qigong exercise to others. No adverse events occurred.
Conclusion: An 8-week qigong exercise program was feasible, acceptable, and safe for American older adults. Future robust randomized controlled trials are needed to confirm these findings.
Keywords: American older adults; acceptability; adherence; feasibility; qigong; retention.