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It doesn’t take very much coaxing to prompt local internist, Algimantas S. Kerpe, M.D., into talking about one of his personal passions, energy work. Specifically, however, there are two types of Chinese martial arts that he feels are helping his patients to battle stress significantly and improve health. It’s not surprising, then, that tai chi and qigong are being recognized together on Saturday, April 29 as part of the official “World Tai Chi and Qigong Day.”

“I consider the purpose of Chinese martial arts in general and tai chi in particular, to be not-so-much about defending yourself against an evil attacker in some dark alley,” Dr. Kerpe explains. He admits with a chuckle that they can be quite useful and effective in that way too.

Standing in the waiting room of his Blackberry Drive office, Dr. Kerpe, 6’2”, slowly brings his balance down into a steady, fight-like stance to demonstrate how by shifting energy from the head into the belly strengthens stability and balance.  Tai chi and qigong are both meditative-type practices that combine deep breathing and slow, fluid movements in order to balance emotional and physical strength that’s needed in fighting foes or daily stressors.  Dr. Kerpe says that while they are similar, tai chi concentrates on the movement of the breath while qigong focuses on the movement of the energy.

“Actually, what I see as its main value is for defending oneself against life’s daily challenges, like paying for your mortgage, managing your personal relationships or struggling to be successful in your work,” continues Dr. Kerpe, who has been treating adults for more than 30 years.

Particularly relevant for the seniors in his practice, Dr. Kerpe mentions a recent study suggesting that older people who practice tai chi may be less likely to fall than others their age who don’t do this type of exercise. Researchers at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center and University Medical Center in Lubbock examined data from 18 previously published trials of tai chi for fall prevention with a combined

3,824 participants aged 65 and older. Tai chi was associated with a 20 percent lower risk of falling at least once and a 31 percent drop in the number of falls the analysis found.

“Lowering the risk and frequency of falling with tai chi and qigong exercises is huge because it creates a wide-spread ripple of benefits ranging from keeping seniors in their homes, to preventing injury in nursing homes, to decreasing medical costs, and to feeling better for people of all ages,” Dr. Kerpe concludes. “It is a gentle, yet very powerful means of combating the destructive effects of stress.”

For anyone interested in trying it out for themselves, The Lightheart Center for The Healing Arts, 0S165 Church St., Winfield, will be hosting “The Spring Gathering,” from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 29, 2017. Visitors can sample tai chi and qigong exercises from some of the best local instructors. To RSVP or to receive additional information, please contact The Lightheart Center at 630-260-1084.

About Algimantas S. Kerpe, M.D.

Dr. Kerpe has been practicing the Batavia/Geneva area for 30 years. His solo, independent practice is relationship-based and emphasizes a philosophy of active “Primary Caring—When Health Meets Heart.” He is on staff at Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital in Geneva and Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital in Wheaton. For his adult patients, Dr. Kerpe’s clinical interests include diabetes, migraines, cardiac issues, weight loss, and alternative therapies.