“When I first moved into St. Paul’s Manor, I had to walk with a cane all the time due to my multiple sclerosis – now, the only time I use my cane is at night when it’s dark,” exclaims Dr. Sunny Baker.
Sunny credits her health transformation in part to the exercise class she leads at St. Paul’s Manor, an independent senior living community in Bankers Hill. Three days a week, she and a group of fellow residents get together and practice Qigong, a 3,000-year-old Chinese exercise that uses prolonged cardiovascular movements, stretching the body, and improving blood flow.
The English translation of Qi is life energy. Gong means daily effort. The gentle exercise is centered around repetitive movement. Practicing Qigong regularly has many health benefits including:
• Reduced blood pressure: Because Qigong increases circulation it leads to reduced blood pressure and a healthier heart.
• Decreased risk of falling: Qigong movements help improve balance, strength, and coordination which help prevent falls.
• Decreased stress: Because Qigong is relaxing, it helps relieve stress and provides an opportunity to connect mind and body. Since stress negatively affects the body, alleviating stress has many health benefits.
• Decreased chronic pain: Proved to help with arthritis and other joint-related pain, Qigong is a natural aid.
The many benefits of Qigong have helped Sunny. They have improved her life drastically.
“I’m able to walk around more easily; I have more flexibility, I sleep better, and I’m stronger,” Sunny explained. “And I’ve lost 50lbs!
Sunny also attributes her success to the community at St. Paul’s Manor. She says being part of a group of her peers helps her in so many ways. She leads the Qigong class which often consists of ten or more residents.
“Qigong is all about developing your balance and building strength but doesn’t make you too hot and sweaty,” she laughs. “This is very good for people who are seniors.”
Because Qigong exercise is slow, it takes time and repetition to build up strength and flexibility. It is different from western exercise that involves a lot of weight lifting and fast movements; it’s about intensity and concentration.
“You only need to do it for about 25 minutes, moving the entire time and concentrating, to get results.” Sunny explained, “The more often you do practice, the better.”
Sunny and her fellow St. Paul’s Manor residents like to test their progression and flexibility by occasionally trying the advanced moves, which motivates and pushes them to keep working at Qigong.
The class started out small, about three people, and has grown to almost 10 seniors. Sunny and the other residents who practice Qigong hope that more seniors at St. Paul’s Manor try Qigong so they too can enjoy its many benefits.
“It’s a lot of fun, and it builds community,” Sunny exclaims. “Just show up and try something new! The most important thing about exercise is just showing up, that’s 90% of the benefit. Those in the class have made amazing improvements in mobility and flexibility from regularly practicing Qigong.”
Qigong is just one of the many classes offered at St. Paul’s Manor. There is everything from Bingo to Wii bowling. If you are looking for senior independent living in San Diego, St. Paul’s Manor offers an excellent location and a wonderful community. Learn more about St. Paul’s Manor here (https://www.stpaulseniors.org/services/st-pauls-manor/). We invite you to take a tour and see for yourself why St. Paul’s Manor has been voted Best of Uptown San Diego for retirement living by San Diego Uptown News, Best Senior Living Community by the San Diego Union Tribune Readers Poll, and by San Diego Gay Magazine.