HOW TO USE SCIENCE TO PROMOTE TAI CHI & QIGONG ...
METAROBICS - Oxygen Saturation & Tai Chi
Using Science to Promote Tai Chi and Qigong in your Community -- Pete Gryffin, PhD, MS
Diffusion of Innovation Theory, as pioneered by Evert Rogers, is one of the most used theories in business and marketing, to target markets with new products. And to a large part of American society, Tai Chi can fall into the venue of a new and unknown product. Much of Tai Chi promotion today is focused on balance, which does target an important need in society (falls are the leading cause of accidental death and injury among older adults in the United States). But many Tai Chi teachers focus on health related to Qi development, which can be off-putting to many people. Those of us with a background in Traditional Chinese Medicine, and more traditional formats of Tai Chi and Qigong, understand why it is important to focus on Qi development, from a more holistic perspective. But according to Diffusion of Innovation Theory, more abstract views appeal primarily to a small segment of society (the Innovators).
Focus group studies and a survey of national programs (citations below), support that the bulk of society (the Early Adopters and Early and Late Majority) is actually turned off from exercises such as Tai Chi, when the cause of benefits is focused on Qi. This is seen in the general public as a vague and confounding concept. Some even see it as delusional. As one respondent stated: "It looks like they are waving their hands around in the air for no reason." Citing research supporting benefits is a start, but even much of this research either does not state how and why benefits occur, or use statements from their Tai Chi teachers, that benefits are due to Qi. Which again, to much of the public, government, research and medical community, means nothing.
Until the entire spectrum of Qi becomes better understood, Diffusion of Innovation Theory supports that it is important to focus on measureable and evidence based principles of perceived characteristics. Metarobic Theory is a good start in this direction, since it details how and why Tai Chi, and related exercises, benefit health through measurable physiological mechanisms. Metarobics is also a good fit with other forms of fitness, such as Aerobics, giving it a ring of familiarity. Research in the area of Metarobics documents unique effects on blood oxygen saturation, diffusion, and enhanced oxygen based metabolism (the reason for the term Metarobics). Metarobic theory documents how and why exercises such as Tai Chi benefit so many conditions. Deficiency of oxygen in the tissues (hypoxia) underlies or complicates pretty much all chronic conditions, including cancer, heart, lung and kidney disease, arthritis, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, immunity and more. Promoting Metarobic benefits of Tai Chi can have a major effect in attracting the other adopter categories, beyond the Innovators.
I gave a talk on Metarobics at an older adult community which offered Tai Chi. Class attendance after my talk expanded from one class of 7-8 people, to three classes of 25-30 people. I also gave a talk on Metarobics on a local radio station, which began receiving so many phone calls that they cancelled the next show. The result was a turnout of over 70 people, in a small Midwestern town. In past years they had only 3-5 people come to the event (and some years no one showed up). In my own promotion of the event this year, I have put together a poster, which has also been resized as an information sheet, which addresses many of these issues. Below are links, which include the original PowerPoint, in case you would like to make modifications for your event. For more information on Metarobic theory, research, and over 50 supporting case stories, see "Tai Chi Therapy: The Science of Metarobics," available on Amazon.com
World Tai Chi & Qigong Day/Metarobics Poster: http://metarobics.org/uploads/3/4/9/7/34972553/wtcqd_metarobics_poster.pdf
(Power Point Version for Modification: http://metarobics.org/uploads/3/4/9/7/34972553/wtcqd_metarobics_poster.pptx
World Tai Chi & Qigong Day/Metarobics Handout:
(Power Point Version for Modification:
Gryffin PA, Chen WC, Erenguc N. Survey of tai chi programs in the United States: Barriers and opportunities for older adults. Journal of Aging and Physical Activity. Accepted February 4th, 2016.
Gryffin PA, Chen WW, Chaney BH, et al.Facilitators and barriers to tai chi in the older adult population: A focus group study. American Journal of Health Education, 2015; 46(2): 109-118.