What are Tai Chi and Qi-gong?
Reported Health Benefits of Tai Chi and Qi-gong
Tai Chi Mantis Institute
Tai Chi and Qi-gong
Tai Chi (Tai Chi Chuan) and Qi-gong (pronounced "chee-gong") are two practices that originated in ancient China, and are now practiced throughout the world as an effective exercise for strengthening and balancing both the body and mind. Historically Tai Chi Chuan and Qi-gong were thought to have origins in ancient Taoist and Buddhist temples, and thus emphasized as both a religious and physical practice. In modern times, Tai Chi Chuan and Qi-gong practices generally refer to the physical and mental aspects. The essence of Tai Chi Chuan is to strengthen and improve the internal strength and the flow of Qi, the vital life energy. Focus is on fluid, relaxed movements with slow and deep breathing. Besides being an effective form of self-defense, Tai Chi Chuan and Qi-gong have been proven to have many health benefits, as they train the body by improving muscle strength, flexibility and stamina as well as the mind by helping improve one's ability to focus and relax.
Beginner students start with breathing exercises, the Tai Chi walk, and the basic 24 movement set (Yang style), which forms a foundation for all future training. Students will expand their training with additional sets, which incorporate elements of the Sun, Wu and Chen styles. They will also learn Tui Shou (Pushing Hands), the 24 and 48-movement Chen Style, and weapons sets. Qi-gong practice, which focuses on developing one's internal strength, is for the intermediate/advanced student. For the more advanced student, Tai Chi and Qi-gong are taught together, and meant to be practiced as a complementary exercise for maximum benefit to the mind and body.
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1. Tai chi and Qi-gong improves overall health
- A systematic literature review of 68 peer-reviewed published articles involving 9,236 participants cited overall improvement in multiple physical and mental parameters, including:
(Webster et al., A systematic review of the health benefits of Tai Chi for students in higher education, Preventative Medicine Reports, 2016.
- A single, blinded random controlled study of 60 men and women showed overall improved physical performance, including walking speed, balance, and test of mobility in individuals aged 87±7 years who practiced Yang-style Tai Chi twice a week for 1 hour for 12 weeks.
(Manor et al., Functional benefits of tai chi training in senior housing facilities, Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 2014.
- Tai chi chuan and associated practices have been well reported as being associated with improving various facets of physical and mental health, and characterized as a low-cost and safe alternative medicine method for a variety of acute and chronic diseases.
(Reviewed in Lan et al., Tai Chi Chuan in Medicine, Evidence Based Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 2013.
Systematic review and meta-analysis in Kelley & Kelley, Meditative Movement Therapies and Health-Related Quality-of-Life in Adults: A Systematic Review of Meta-Analyses, PLoS One, 2015.
2. Tai chi practice improves cardiac performance and rehabilitation
- A clinical trial with 100 outpatients with systolic heart failure showed improved quality-of-life and cardiac exercise self-efficacy after a 12-week Tai chi program
(Yeh et al., Tai Chi Exercise in Patients With Chronic Heart Failure: A Randomized Clinical Trial, Archives of Internal Medicine, 2011.
- A small study focused on survivors of nasopharyngeal cancer (who often experience post-chemotherapy cardiac complications) showed improved heart-rate variability during Tai Chi and Qi-gong practice
(Fong et al., Changes in heart-rate variability of survivors of nasopharyngeal cancer during Tai Chi Qigong practice, Journal of Physical Therapy Science, 2015.
- A single-blinded random controlled trial showed 14% improved cardio output (as measured by VO2 max) in patients who had recently suffered a heart attack after only 3 weekly sessions of Tai chi compared to 3 weekly sessions of full-body stretching
(Nery et al., Tai Chi Chuan improves functional capacity after myocardial infarction: A randomized clinical trial, American Heart Journal, 2015.
- Tai chi improved endothelial function (associated with blood vessel function), decreased arterial stiffness and decreased total cholesterol in elderly female patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis
(Shin et al., The beneficial effects of Tai Chi exercise on endothelial function and arterial stiffness in elderly women with rheumatoid arthritis, Arthritis Research & Therapy, 2015.
3. Tai Chi and Qi-gong are effective at relieving autoimmune diseases like Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Female Rheumatoid Arthritis patients experienced less pain, had more confidence in movement and reduced stress after 12 weeks of bi-weekly Tai chi practice
(Uhlig et al., Exploring Tai Chi in rheumatoid arthritis: a quantitative and qualitative study, BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, 2010.
- Pilot study in 10 Rheumatoid Arthritis patients showed improvement in 25 clinical endpoints associated with disease, including joint tenderness, joint swelling, and overall vitality
(Wang et al., Effect of Tai Chi in adults with rheumatoid arthritis, Rheumatology (Oxford Press), 2005.
- Review recommends that Tai chi practice can be an overall safe practice recommended for treatment of symptoms associated with Rheumatoid Arthritis
(Wang, Tai chi and rheumatic diseases, Rheumatic Disease Clinics of North America, 2012.
4. Tai chi and Qi-gong in other health conditions
- Tai chi is a cost-effective method for preventing falls in patients with Parkinson's disease
(Li and Harmer, Economic Evaluation of a Tai Ji Quan Intervention to Reduce Falls in People With Parkinson Disease, Oregon, 2008-2011, Preventing Chronic Disease, 2015.
- Tai chi practice was associated with reduced inflammation as well as genes associated with control of inflammation in breast cancer survivors suffering from insomnia
(Irwin et al., Tai chi, cellular inflammation, and transcriptome dynamics in breast cancer survivors with insomnia: a randomized controlled trial, Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 2014.
- Tai chi and Qi-gong practice and other alternative interventions improved overall quality-of-life, sleep quality, pain relief, reduced depression, decreased gastrointestinal distress and fatigue in cancer patients
(Tao et al., Practice of traditional Chinese medicine for psycho-behavioral intervention improves quality of life in cancerpatients: A systematic review and meta-analysis, Oncotarget, 2015.
- Tai chi effectively reduced back pain in young males in their 20s
(Cho, Effects of tai chi on pain and muscle activity in young males with acute low back pain, Journal of Physical Therapy Science, 2014.