Weekly qigong practice improved insulin resistance and lowered A1C levels (a measurement of average blood sugar over time) among patients with type 2 diabetes, according to a randomized controlled pilot study, published in the journal of the American Diabetes Association, Diabetes Care (2010; 33 , e8). The purpose of the study was to investigate the effects of qigong relative to physical exercise or standard care on glucose control in adults with type 2 diabetes.
Researchers from Bastyr University in Kenmore, Washington, randomly assigned 32 participants to one of three groups: qigong, progressive resistance training or the control group. All participants maintained their conventional diabetes care—consisting of medications, diet and exercise—during the 12-week study. Qigong and progressive resistance training subjects practiced three times per week—1 hour in an instructor-led group class and two 30-minute home sessions on their own. At the beginning and after 12 weeks, researchers measured plasma glucose, insulin and A1C.
Data analysis showed that qigong group members experienced statistically significant reductions in plasma glucose levels, in contrast with both progressive resistance training and control group subjects, who experienced increases in plasma glucose. A1C levels remained the same for control group members and declined for both qigong group and progressive resistance training subjects.
Study authors concluded that qigong might be an effective complementary therapy for individuals with type 2 diabetes.