In this study we found that Baduanjin exercise presented a better performance in the GAD-7 and SMH Sleep Questionnaire when compared to the control group, probably indicating that Baduanjin exercise is beneficial to regulating COVID-19 patients' mood and promoting their sleep. This is the first study to report that Baduanjin exercise promotes anxiety and insomnia in COVID-19 patients.
The COVID-19 outbreak has reached every continent on Earth besides Antarctica. The respiratory disease, caused by a never-before-seen coronavirus, has upended life across the globe, shutting down entire cities and countries in a matter of months. The economy has come to a screeching halt. The epicenter–Wuhan, China -- experienced the worst of the initial outbreak but appears to be getting things under control whereas huge, secondary outbreaks have appeared in Europe and the US. COVID-19 is classified as an airborne high consequence of infectious disease (HCID) in the world. The COVID-19 symptoms may begin like the flu but go on to develop fever, cough, and shortness of breath that is severe enough to warrant hospitalization in many patients . Unfortunately, to date, there is no antiviral drug or vaccine to treat this infection. The management of patients mainly focuses on the provision of supportive care, e.g, oxygenation, ventilation, fluid management, and psychological nursing .
A national survey from the American Psychiatric Association (APA) shows COVID-19 is seriously affecting Americans' mental health, with half of US adults reporting high levels of anxiety . Besides, a survey study shows that during the initial phase of the COVID-19 outbreak in China, more than half of the respondents rated the psychological impact as moderate-to-severe, and about one-third reported moderate-to-severe anxiety . People especially the patient tend to misinterpret benign bodily sensations and changes as dangerous. This will increase their anxiety, influence their ability to make rational decisions, and impact their behavior . As we have known, Baduanjin exercise is a low-intensity, aerobic exercise and several studies have demonstrated other benefits of Baduanjin exercise, including relieving pain and stiffness, and improving sleep quality and psychological well-being [11, 19, 20]. In our study, we found the two groups had improved the GAD-7 scores and SMH Sleep Questionnaire compared with baseline, which may be related to the successful discharge of COVID-19 patients. Nevertheless, the significant differences found in the Baduanjin group included a 43.9% lower (p < 0.001) in the GAD-7 score and an approximately 75.9% higher (p = 0.003) in SMH Sleep Questionnaire score compare with the control group. The results of this study suggest that the Baduanjin exercise might be beneficial to the physical and mental rehabilitation of COVID-19 patients. Therefore, Baduanjin exercise may be used as a rehabilitation exercise for COVID-19 patients when they are in hospital.
For many of us, the coronavirus and the COVID-19 illness make for a very uncertain future. People worry about their own health and the health of their loved ones, here and abroad. While anxiety is a normal and expected reaction to the pandemic, too much anxiety can start to cause harm. Feeling stressed and fearful every day takes a toll on health and well-being very quickly. Hence, you can use that concern to take positive and protective actions—things like practicing good hygiene, having a plan in case you need to self-isolate, and taking Baduanjin exercise to relax mood.
This study also has some limitations. First, our study was retrospective and subject to self-selection bias. There are a lot of confounding factors that can't be controlled. Second, the number of subjects recruited for the study was relatively small. Third, the GAD-7 and SMH Sleep Questionnaire were not evaluated continuously during hospitalization, making it impossible to know exactly when the two groups differed. Nonetheless, this study provides some basis for the Baduanjin exercise to promote the recovery of COVID-19 patients. In the future, more research is still needed to confirm this conclusion.