Long-term regular physical activity, such as body practices of Traditional Chinese Medicine, seems to be an important habit for maintaining the functional fitness, independence and quality of life of elderly individuals. However, scientific knowledge production concerning assessment of such practices, specifically for the elderly population, focusing on functional fitness and quality of life, is still modest. Moreover, there is a lack of studies with long-term follow-up and control groups. Therefore, this study aims to compare the parameters of functional fitness and the dimensions of quality of life of elderly participants and non-participants in the body practices of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Longer adherence time, shorter adherence time and control group have been considered.
This is an observational epidemiological case-control study carried out with 118 elderly individuals (≥ 60 years). The case group was represented by 59 elderly people practicing the body practices of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and they were subdivided into two groups, according to their median adherence time (< 24 months and ≥ 24 months). The control group was composed of 59 participants who were not participating in physical activity programs or guided body practices. Collection was carried out in four Traditional Medicine Specialized Units of the Municipal Health Office of the city of São Paulo. Sociodemographic and functional variables were collected. Quality of life was measured by Medical Outcomes Study 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey (SF-36). For data analysis, a univariate logistic regression and the Kruskal Wallis test have been performed.
When assessing quality of life, favorable results were found for the case group, with longer (≥ 24 months) adherence time in the domains of bodily pain (p = 0.003), vitality (p = 0.021), role emotional (p = 0.034), and mental health (p = 0.020). A better result was observed in the case group, with longer (≥ 24 months) adherence time in the functional 30-second chair stand test (p = 0.006).
The body practices of Traditional Chinese Medicine can contribute to quality of life, functional fitness, and lower limb strength.