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Master Chen guides practitioners from Vigen de las Nieves during a tai chi class. Ramón L. Pérez
Granada's doctors and nurses kick-start their day with tai chi classes
Health

Granada's doctors and nurses kick-start their day with tai chi classes

Master Chen gives lessons to health professionals at the city's Virgen de las Nieves university hospital as part of a strategy to help relieve work stress

Sara Bárcena Hernández

Granada

Tuesday, 11 June 2024, 08:46

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At around eight o'clock in the morning as the sun begins to peer over the rooftops of Granada it's the start of a new day for most people. However, for health workers at the city's Virgen de las Nieves university hospital it is the end of a long night shift.

On the rooftop of the public hospital around thirty professionals are taking part in Master Chen's tai chi class. This ancient martial art, originally from China, combines gentle movements with breathing, mental concentration and relaxation techniques that help to combat the stress that these healthcare professionals face every day.

Doctors, nurses, assistants, orderlies and administrative staff copy his movements. The beginning of the class was the most intense, aerobic style part, but then gradually the movements became slower and more gentle - almost a kind of dance. Eventually the mind and breathing took centre stage and the atmosphere was one of absolute relaxation.

"Silence. We go down. Now, up. Breathe...". And the teacher ended the tai chi class. It was time to regain strength with a cup of green tea and an apple. "Water is very important for our body," said Chen. As an expert in this martial art (as well as in acupuncture), he recommends always exercising in the morning before work, because "the air is fresher and the energy is better with the sunrise, zen, new".

Healthy living

Many of the participants had never done tai chi before, but signed up without hesitation. Meditation in movement "can only be good". Operating theatre nurse Eugenio Coll starts the day "in a different way". He says, "The energy you release at the beginning of the class is very aerobic, very strong. Then there is a little bit of relaxation and you are more aware of your body. I like that feeling."

This was the second such session at the hospital as the first one, held in a meeting room indoors, proved to be so successful that the location had to be changed for the next classes. The rooftop and adjoining indoor room on the sixth floor proved to be the best option. From now on, every Thursday, from half past seven to half past eight in the morning, the professionals of this hospital centre will be able to join Master Chen here.

After each class, participants replenish their energy with green tea and an apple

Salomé Zurita is head of the hospital adminstrative team and is the person behind the initiative. Salomé has been doing tai chi for some time and that's how she knows Master Chen. She says that the martial art helps to "be one", something she considers "essential" in her work. "We have a lot of people coming and going, each one with their own position, their pain, their joy, and we have to be as balanced and stable as possible", she says.

However, "it would not have been possible without the head of all this". María Fernández is the director of the initiative, which came out of the hospital's strategy "to promote the collective health" of its workers. The morning classes are intended to make it easier to balance work and family life and participants may leave the one-hour class when they wish.

For now, the Hospital Universitario Virgen de las Nieves is the only one in the province of Granada and Andalucía in general, said Fernández, which offers its workers anything like this. It is a different way of preventing occupational accidents. But, above all, with the help of Master Chen, the tai chi classes promote the most important thing: a healthy lifestyle.

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