The practices of tai chi and qigong offer many health benefits for the body and mind, including improvements in bone and heart health, physical functioning, balance and overall quality of life, according to a research review published in the American Journal of Health Promotion (2010; 24 , 195–202). Researchers from Arizona State University College of Nursing and Healthcare Innovation in Phoenix; the University of North Carolina, Greensboro; and the Institute of Integral Qigong and Tai Chi in Santa Barbara, California, conducted the review. It included 77 randomized controlled trials reporting on qigong or tai chi interventions and involving a total of more than 6,000 subjects.
Investigators included both disciplines in the review since both are forms of meditative movement that are health-promoting practices in traditional Chinese medicine, with shared theoretical roots and common features such as a focus on body, breath and mind. Study authors also noted that while many studies name the intervention activity “tai chi,” what research subjects often practice is more a form of qigong—easy-to-learn movements that are simple and repeatable—rather than the long complex sequences of traditional tai chi.
Linda Larkey, PhD, from Arizona State University College of Nursing and Healthcare Innovation, said, “Given the growing evidence for health and wellness benefits for these practices [tai chi and qigong], along with the accessibility, simplicity of some forms and safety, more emphasis should be placed on promoting qigong and tai chi among the general population as a public health improvement strategy.”