Qigong, yoga and tai chi may all be useful practices for reducing high blood pressure. And qigong, in particular, may have the most significant impact on reducing diastolic blood pressure [DBP], according to a review of studies published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine (2017; article ID 9784271).

Shanghai University of Sport researchers in Shanghai, People’s Republic of China, wanted to compare tai chi, yoga and qigong—three mindful-movement practices—to evaluate their effect on blood pressure reduction and determine whether one practice might be more beneficial than another. The researchers noted that all three disciplines offer benefits as nonpharmacological approaches that include meditation and physical activity, but said no previous studies had compared them against one another.

Investigators selected 19 randomized clinical trials with 1,459 hypertensive patients for inclusion in a meta-analysis. The review found that all three practices led to significant reductions in both systolic blood pressure and DBP among study subjects, compared with nonexercising controls. While qigong practice showed a stronger impact on DBP, study authors cautioned that this finding may have resulted from different sample sizes and follow-up times and recommended that more research be conducted.

Shirley Archer-Eichenberger, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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