Qigong Benefits People With Chronic Fatigue

by Shirley Archer, JD, MA on Jan 28, 2013

Mind-Body-Spirit News

Qigong, a mind-body exercise from traditional Chinese medicine, can help people with chronic fatigue and chronic fatigue syndrome to have more energy and to improve mental functioning, suggests a study published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine (2012; 44 [2], 160–70; doi: 10.1007/s12160-012-9381-6). In addition, with qigong practice came an associated increase in telomerase activity, which may shed light on the mechanism underlying the benefits of this type of exercise. Increased telomerase activity has been linked to a reduction in inflammation.

Researchers from the University of Hong Kong conducted the study to assess the effects of 4 months of qigong practice on people with chronic fatigue and chronic fatigue syndrome. Investigators randomly assigned 64 adult male and female subjects aged 23–52 to either a qigong group or a control group. Qigong participants met for 2 hours twice a week for 5 weeks; their program included an introduction to traditional Chinese medicine and the mind-body connection, mindful meditation, gentle stretching and 1-hour instructor-led qigong sessions. For the next 12 weeks, participants practiced at home for 30 minutes daily. Control group members did normal activities and were asked not to join any qigong class.

Scientists collected data on severity of fatigue, physical and mental functioning, and telomerase activity (among other measures) at baseline, 5 weeks and 4 months. Data analysis showed improvements in fatigue among qigong practitioners, with physical fatigue improving more than mental fatigue. Physical functioning did not improve. Researchers suggested this may have been due to the study’s short duration, as another trial showed gains in physical functioning after 6 months. Telomerase activity improved significantly over the 4-month period.

Lead study author Rainbow T. Ho, PhD, director of the Centre on Behavioral Health at the University of Hong Kong, told IDEA Fitness Journal, “This study is the first one to provide preliminary evidence on how mind-body exercises can help improve immunity and make you feel or look younger, as telomerase is also an important enzyme that protects us from aging by guarding the shortening of telomeres during cell division. Further research is warranted, as [more studies] may give hints to the underlying mechanisms for other mind-body therapeutic approaches—in particular, those with strong physical components, such as yoga and even dance movement therapy.”

IDEA Fitness Journal, Volume 10, Issue 2

© 2013 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.

About the Author

Shirley Archer, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA IDEA Author/Presenter

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, was the 2008 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year and is IDEA’s mind-body-spirit spokesperson. She is a certified yoga and Pilates teacher and an award-winning author base...


Trending Articles

Mindful Walking

Walking can be more than just moving physically from one location to another. It can be a metaphor for your larger life journey. Things you&...

Nuts and Peanuts Reduce Cardiovascular Risk and Prolong Lifespan

While there have been numerous studies in recent years touting the health benefits of nuts and peanuts, new research published online March ...

Smooth Move: Creative Additions to Consider for Smoothies

When looking for a quick breakfast or post-workout nourishment, almost nothing beats a smoothie. Whirl in the right ingredients and the blen...

Cut Risk of Alzheimer’s with MIND Diet

Conservative adherence to a new diet, appropriately known by the acronym MIND, could significantly lower a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, according to a paper published o...

Yes, You CAN Develop Better Eating Habits

Analogous to laying out your exercise gear so it’s the first visual reminder you have of your commitment to exercise each day, imagine...

7 Ways to Help a Client Boost Adherence

Once a client has decided to make nutritional changes to support weight loss, you can play a key role in developing an action plan that is m...

20 IDEA World-Renowned Presenters Share Advice on Success and Happiness

We asked some of this year’s most influential and motivating IDEA World Fitness Convention™ presenters to share the single piece of advice they would give another fitness/health pro to hel...

Recipe for Health: Picadillo-Stuffed Peppers

If you don’t believe that authentic Mexican cookery is “whole” and healthy, you need to take a deep dive into Mexico: The Cookbook (Phaidon 2014), the first truly comprehensive bible...

The Reason Your Clients Don't Acieve Their Goals

Lots of people hire personal trainers or join group fitness classes hoping to lose weight. Yet many fail to meet their goals. New research suggests that “progress bias”—overestimatin...

Rice-Cooking Technique Cuts Calorie Absorption in Half

In a molecular gastronomy-meets-lab-science moment, researchers at the College of Chemical Sciences in Colombo, Sri Lanka, have discovered a...