Scientists at Arizona State University conducted a review and analysis of several published scientific reports involving over 6400 participants found that Tai Chi and Qigong provide numerous health benefits, both mental and physical, which improve the quality of life, heart and immune system.
Linda Larkey, PhD, and her colleagues found 77 published reports of scientific studies that looked at the two wellness practices and compared them to other exercises or to a sedentary state. The studies, published between 1993 and 2007, evaluated Tai Chi and Qigong and their response on various outcomes, including health, quality of life, physical function, falls, one's feeling of self-efficacy, immune system functioning, psychological symptoms, and other factors.
Both forms of activity include a wide variety of physical movements and slow, meditative, dance-like movements, Dr. Larkey writes. Both also involve meditation postures and gentle or vigorous shaking of the body. They emphasize regulation of breath and mind coordinated with body regulation.
The review, Dr. Larkey says provides a ''stronger evidence base'' for the activities and their positive effects on bone health, cardio-respiratory fitness, physical functioning, balance, quality of life, fall prevention, and psychological health.
Although it was not possible to combine all the study results statistically and come up with a number describing the effect, the evidence of benefits is consistent, she says.
Exactly how do tai chi and qigong impart their benefits? "This combination of self-awareness with self-correction of the posture and movement of the body, the flow of breath, and mindfulness, are thought to comprise a state that activates the natural self-regulatory (self-healing) capacity," Larkey writes. That, in turn, helps trigger beneficial brain hormones and "a wide array of natural health recovery mechanisms.”
The study is published in the American Journal of Health Promotion.