Qigong (pronounced chee-gong) is a form of gentle exercise that is a fundamental component of self-care in traditional Chinese medicine. Less acrobatic than many yoga forms and more active than most meditation practices, this movement therapy gently strengthens, calms, and supports both body and mind. It involves meditation and repeated movements that improve circulation and increase qi (energy), encouraging an overall sense of well-being.
While qigong has been practiced in China for centuries, it is relatively new to the States and increasingly embraced by the medical communities of North America and Europe because of its demonstrated health benefits and minimal risk.
WILL QIGONG BENEFIT ME?
Some of the most common ways that qigong can support well-being include:
Improved mood: Qigong helps reduce symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression. Several systematic reviews have shown that qigong lowers levels of cortisol (a known stress hormone), significantly diminishes depressive symptoms, and reduces anxiety.
Increased energy: There's evidence that qigong improves energy levels in cases of fibromyalgia, depression, and cancer-related fatigue . Anecdotally, people often report feeling more energetic, more focused, and better sleep, after incorporating a regular qigong practice into their routine.
Decreased pain: Qigong and other mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques are recommended by the American College of Physicians as among the most effective tools for managing chronic back pain. Other studies show that chronic neck pain is significantly lessened with regular qigong practice. Additionally, a two-year clinical study that focused on opioid dependency in northern Maine showed that a Group Medical Visit protocol which included group check-ins, guided imagery exercises, and qigong had a staggering effect on reducing opiate use.
Improved cardiopulmonary health: Multiple randomized controlled studies show positive effect on respiration in patients with COPD. Several others suggest that qigong may lower blood pressure in patients who are prehypertensive or mildly hypertensive. Diabetes can also affect cardiovascular health, and a new systematic review showed qigong lowers both fasting and postprandial glucose levels as much as other higher-impact cardiovascular exercises.