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THE IMPACT OF SELF-PRACTICE QIGONG ON STRENGTH GAINS AND WELL-BEING DURING OFF-SEASON TRAINING FOR FALL SPORT ATHLETES. A Thesis presented to the Faculty of California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Kinesiology in the College of Science and Mathematics by Christopher Shawn White June 2015.
The use of mind-body therapies, such as Tai Chi, yoga, Qigong, and meditation are frequently reported as a means of coping with anxiety and depression. Despite these findings, there is little knowledge of Qigong exercise being able to impact elite athlete’s physical and mental states during off-season training. Purpose: Determine the efficacy of Qigong to facilitate strength gains and well-being in collegiate anaerobically trained athletes. Methods: Seventy-three athletes (47 M, 26 F, 18-22 years) volunteered to participate in a Qigong exercise group or standard care group. Strength gains were measured through a vertical jump test and a 3 RM front squat, bench press, and deadlift before and after a prescribed 8 week, 4 day per week weight training program. Well-being was measured through the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-Being questionnaire which was administered before, weekly, and after the weight training program. Both groups performed the training program and received the well-being questionnaire. In addition to the training program and questionnaire, the Qigong group performed Qigong exercises five days a week for fifteen minutes each day. Results: The Qigong groups average strength values were higher versus the control for bench press (+ 52%; P= 0.00), deadlift (+15%; P= 0.09), front squat (+28%; P= 0.004), and vertical jump (+52%, P= 0.223). Qigong groups had a higher average overall well-being score (+6%; P= 0.00). Conclusion: These data suggest that 8 weeks of Qigong exercises for 15 minutes a day, 5 days per week demonstrates an improvement in exercise performance as well as an enhancement in self-reported feelings of well-being. Further studies examining long-term benefits of Qigong, the collection of inflammatory biomarkers, and any potential association between improvement in well-being and reduction in injury rates may provide additional information that may assist coaches and athletic trainers in providing optimal comprehensive care.