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The Chi Machine is a passive aerobic exercise device, developed and first manufactured in Japan by Skylite Industry company president and engineer, Keiichi Ohashi, in 1988. The Chi Machine was granted a patent by the Japanese Patent Office December 18, 1990. The machine was originally known as Sun Harmony and later changed to Sun Ancon.
The Sun Ancon Chi Machine is a box-like device with an "ankle cradle" that moves from side to side at approximately 140 oscillations per minute. The user is instructed to lie down flat on the floor, place their ankles on top of the ankle cradle, and then turn on the timer to activate the machine. The machine creates a side to side motion throughout the body, beginning at the feet. This movement is likened to a goldfish swimming.
In 1927, Katsuzo Nishi created 'The Nishi Health System', a series of six exercises, one of which (kingyō undō) was the basis for the motion of the modern day Chi Machine. This specific exercise of the body was adopted in the martial art of Akido and known as "goldfish exercise".
The concept for the original Sun Ancon Chi Machine device came from Japanese scientist Shizuo Inoue, Chairman of Japan's Oxygen Health Association, who studied the effects of oxygenation of the body for 38 years and believed that lack of oxygen in the body is a primary cause of disease.
Skylite Industry in Japan collaborated with Hsin Ten Enterprise International (HTE), in Taiwan, who trademarked the name The Chi Machine after being given exclusive rights to distribute the machine by Inoue.
The Sun Ancon Chi Machine holds US FDA approval as a Class 1 Therapeutic Massager, Regulation #890.5660.[not in citation given] and is registered as a medical device in Canada 66598, Australia L 81810 and Japan 02B 0694.
In June 2000, HTE contracted with Flinders University in Adelaide, South Australia to conduct clinical trials focusing on secondary lymphedema and venous oedema of the legs. Results showed loss of fluid, a reduction in pain and swelling, and weight loss.[unreliable medical source?]
HTE claims the Chi Machine oxygenates the body via "passive aerobic exercise", activating the lymphatic system, enabling detoxification, and aligns the spine due to the figure of eight motion caused by the specific oscillation of the machine.
Other devices adopting the same principle have been developed. There is some controversy about the comparison between these similar device and the Sun Ancon Chi Machine distributed by HTE. Many of HTE's distributors claim that any variance from the unique specification of the original Chi Machine - 140 oscillations per minute, +/- 5 - will result in a swinging motion of the body that may negatively affect efficacy or may be harmful.
Similar devices supplied by other manufacturers offer various alternative speed options and controls (along with added gadgets such as magnets or far infrared in some cases), claiming that weight, health condition, age and other individual characteristics determine the optimal speed. The US patent filed in the name of the Japanese inventor, Keiichi Ohashi, specifies a speed range of 100 to 200 oscillations per minute. In Japan the original manufacturers, Skylite Industry, have produce a model with a lower speed of 120 oscillations per minute. HTE's distributors claim that Inoue chose the speed of 140 oscillations per minute, +/- 5, on the basis of blood pressure, heart rate and spinal alignment. Although the book Inoue wrote,Aerobic Respiration Exercise & Health, published in English by HTE, makes reference to these passive exercise machines as one of many ways to achieve the oxygenation of the body that he championed, it gives no specific parameters for the design of the 'health equipment' which he mentions in his book, nor has any evidence of the merits of any particular speed ever been presented by HTE.
Moseley AL, Piller N, Carati C (2002). "Combined opto-electronic perometry and bioimpedance to measure objectively the effectiveness of a new treatment intervention for chronic secondary leg lymphedema". Lymphology 35 (4): 136–43. PMID 12570322.