How many of your clients have mild hypertension? Are any of them wondering if a mind-body exercise program could help?

In a study published in the advance online edition of Journal of Human Hypertension (May 19, 2005, pp. 1–8), University of Hong Kong researchers observed 88 patients with mild hypertension over a 16-week period as they participated in either Goulin chi kung or conventional exercise. The goal was to determine whether chi kung would provide the same blood pressure–lowering benefits as the conventional exercise.

Researchers screened 584 people, ages 18–75 years, with mild hypertension. From these candidates, 91 selected participants were divided into two groups (three did not finish the program). One group took part in two 2-hour chi kung classes per week for 4 weeks. After that, classes were held monthly. During the last 12-week period, researchers instructed subjects to practice chi kung daily on their own for 60 minutes each morning and 15 minutes each evening. Subjects in the conventional-exercise group participated in relaxation, stretching, walking and step classes, receiving the same amount of instruction as the other group. Like the chi kung group, they were then asked to perform 60 minutes of exercise each morning and 15 minutes each evening on their own.

After 16 weeks the researchers compared heart rate, weight, body mass index, waist circumference and total-cholesterol levels in both groups. All subjects experienced approximately equivalent improvements in health measures. Researchers found no significant differences in benefits between chi kung and the conventional exercises. nResearchers instructed subjects to practice chi kung daily on their own.