Wondering whether qigong is right for you? Here’s a closer look at this time-tested fitness phenomenon, along with a roundup of its many benefits.
The 411 on Qigong
LiveScience defines qigong as an “ancient Chinese exercise and healing technique that involves meditation, controlled breathing and movement exercises,” while Dr. Axe points out that the term qigong doesn’t just refer to one type of exercise but instead to “many types of gentle movement and meditation practices.” According to the National Qigong Association, “qigong practices can be classified as ‘martial, medical, and/or spiritual.'”
More specific information about qigong can be gleaned from breaking down its name. Continues LiveScience, “Qi is a concept from traditional Chinese culture that roughly means vital energy, information, breath or spirit. The second character in qigong, ‘gong,’ means cultivation or mastery. Qigong is therefore sometimes translated as ‘vital energy cultivation’ or ‘mastery of your energy.’
Similar to yoga, qigong is both a mental and a physical exercise. While experts say that there may be more than 3,000 different qigong styles varying from a slow and steady pace to a vigorous aerobic workout, they do share overlapping characteristics, including: the integration of fluid and stationary body positions and exercises; a connection between breath and movement; and a strong focus on mindfulness.
The Benefits of Qigong
While living up to the meaning of its name may seem like a tall order, a growing body of research supports the many extraordinary benefits of this gentle yet effective exercise.
According to a comprehensive review of the research on the health benefits of qigong and tai chi (considered by some to be a form of qigong and by others to be a distinct practice) published in the American Journal of Health Promotion, these Eastern holistic healing techniques are linked with health improvements across multiple psychological and physiological outcomes, including:
- Cardiopulmonary effects
- Physical function
- Falls and related risk factors
- Quality of life
- Patient-reported outcomes
- Psychological symptoms
- Immune function
Dr. Axe adds, “Science confirms qigong improves energy, inner peace, strength, sleep quality, and vitality.”
Other health benefits of qigong, according to scientists, include:
- Blood pressure reduction
- Stress relief
- Joint pain relief
- Chronic pain reduction
- Improved flexibility
- Enhanced strength and stamina
Who Should Try Qigong?
Qigong is appropriate for anyone at any level of fitness. Regardless of your current abilities, you can get in on the many benefits of qigong and grow stronger in the process. Additionally, qigong is particularly beneficial to people suffering from:
- High levels of anxiety and chronic stress
- Heart disease, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol
- Muscle aches and pains
- Joint pain, osteoarthritis and tendonitis
- Fatigue, low energy and trouble sleeping
- Susceptibility to infections or illness
- Circulatory, lymphatic or digestive problems
The question is, “Will you embrace qigong as part of your fitness program toward improved health and wellness?” Given all of the amazing advantages of qigong, the more appropriate question may be, “Why wouldn’t you?” To try a qigong class out for yourself!