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~ Health Benefits ~

A number of prominent medical institutions and several government agencies have reported findings documenting the benefits associated with the practice of Tai Chi (Tai Chi Chuan) and Qi Gong (Chi Kung).  A few are summarized here for your convenience.  Follow the links at the bottom of the page for more information from other sources including the National Institute of Health.  Better yet, take up the arts of Tai Chi and/or Qi Gong and witness the benefits for yourself.  Recent studies and studies in progress and additional information is also available at the bottom of the page.


Reduced Falls and Reduced Injury Due to Falls (Improves Balance) - Studies sponsored by the National Institute on Aging (NIA)

Source: Emory University School of Medicine – Atlanta, GA, Dr Steven L. Wolf (Ph.D)

Study Group: 200 participants age 70 and older.  Three groups: Tai Chi with increasingly complex forms weekly and 15-minute at-home exercise twice daily; Computerized balance training with increased exercise complexity; Education (Control) group with no changes to their existing regimen. 

Results: The Tai Chi group recorded a reduced risk of falling by 47% and a 25% decrease in injuries from falls when they did occur.  Some of the non-Tai Chi groups showed increased falls.


Source: University of Connecticut Medical Center – Farmington, CT, Dr Leslie Wolfson

Study Group: 110 participants, average age 80.  Four groups: Balance training in 45-minute sessions 3 times per week including computerized balance platform; Resistance training and weight lifting 3 times per week; Both balance and strength training; Long term group received Tai Chi training.

Results:  Balance training improved all balance measures by restoring performance to a level equivalent to an individual 3 to 10 years younger.  Significant gains persisted after 6 months of Tai Chi.


Reduced Blood Pressure (Hypertension)

Source: Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine – Baltimore, MD, Dr Deborah R. Young

Study Group: 62 sedentary adults, aged 60 years and older.  Half did a program of brisk walking and low-impact aerobics; half learned Tai Chi.  12 week duration.

Results: Walking group decreased systolic blood pressure (first number in a blood pressure reading) by 8.4 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) and Tai Chi group decreased 7 mm Hg over their previous sedentary readings.


Source: Shanghai Institute of Hypertension, Wang, Xu, et al – Summary of three studies on similar patient population

Study Group: 20-year study 204 hypertensive patients, 30-year follow-up study on 242 hypertensive patients and an 18-22 year study of 536 patients. 

Results: Walking group decreased systolic blood pressure (first number in a blood pressure reading) by 8.4 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) and Tai Chi group decreased 7 mm Hg over their previous sedentary readings.


Bone Mineral Density (Osteoporosis)

Source: University of South Florida College of Medicine, Tampa, FL; James A Haley Veteran’s Hospital, Tampa, FL

Study Group: 26 female participants, average age 52 (5 pre-menopausal and 21 post-menopausal) separated into Tai Chi and Control groups.  Tai Chi group did 3 1-hour Tai Chi sessions per week for six months.  Control group did not practice Tai Chi or any other form of regular exercise.  Bone Mineral Density (BMD) scans performed on hip and lumbar spine areas for baseline and post study comparison

Results: Tai Chi group increased BMD by 1.8% per year compared to .66% per year decrease in the control group (consistent with age-related loss).


Immune System 

Immunity to Shingles Virus in Older Adults

Sponsors: National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM).

Source: University of California at Los Angeles, University of California at San Diego and San Diego Veterans Affairs Healthcare System, Dr Michael R. Irwin and Dr Michael N. Oxman

Study Group: 112 healthy adults ages 59 to 86 (average age 70).  Each person took part in a 16-week program of either Tai Chi or a health education program that provided 120 minutes of instruction weekly.  Testing for the VZV immunity (varicella-zoster virus – virus that causes shingles) took place throughout the trial.  After the 16-week programs, each person received the VARIVAX Chicken Pox vaccine.  Nine weeks later all were tested to assess each participant’s level of VZV immunity.

Results: Tai Chi alone was found to increase participants’ immunity to varicella as much as the vaccine typically produces in 30 to 40 year-old adults.  Tai Chi combined with the vaccine produced a significantly higher level of immunity, about 40 percent increase, over that produced by the vaccine alone.  Tai Chi group’s rate of increase in immunity over the course of the 25-week study was double that of the health education (control) group.  Both groups had similar VZV immunity when the study began.


Cardio/Respiratory Function

Maintain Cardio/Respiratory Function in Older Adults

Source: Department of Health, Sport and leisure Studies – Northeastern University, Boston, MA, D Schneider, R Leung

Study Group: 84 community-dwelling older adults, average age 64 with no significant cardiovascular, pulmonary or musculoskeletal disease. Tai Chi and control groups contained both men and women matched across groups.

Results: Tai Chi group showed significantly smaller loss in maximal oxygen uptake than control group.  Conclusion:” Regular practice of Tai Chi may delay decline in cardio/respiratory function in older individuals.


Slows Decline in Cardio/Respiratory Function

Source: National Taiwan University Hospital in Taipei Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Lia JS, Lan C, Wong M K, Teng S H

Study Group: 84 community-dwelling older adults with no significant cardiovascular, pulmonary or musculoskeletal disease - 21 male and 20 female participants ages 50 to 64 who practiced Tai Chi and a control group of 21 male and 18 female sedentary participants.  Tai Chi participants practices 5 times per week with less than 1-hour sessions.  Cardio/respiratory function was measured in both groups before and 2 years after the study with the goal of determining the rate of decline in cardio respiratory function.

Results: Those who practiced Tai Chi regularly over two years showed less than one half of the decline in cardio/respiratory function experienced by the sedentary control group (2.8-2.9% vs. 6.6-7.4% decline).



World Tai Chi & Qi Gong Day Health Benefits Page: http://worldtaichiday.org/WTCQDHlthBenft.html

National Institute of Health Search for “Tai Chi” or “QiGong”:   http://www.nih.gov/

National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine – Search for “Tai Chi” or “QiGong”:  http://nccam.nih.gov/

National Qigong Association Qi Gong articles section:  http://www.nqa.org/articles/index.html


~ Recent Studies & Studies in Progress ~

Effects of Chi Energy Emission on NB2 (Cancer) Cells: Tom Shea, PhD, Donald Wong, Ryan Gilbert,  April 25, 2007

Abstract: The medicinal benefits of chi, or the body’s inherent natural healing energy, have been used in Asia for many years.  Therapeutic anti-cancer effects remain somewhat unclear due to placebos with humans.  Here the placebo effect was negated through use of neuroblastoma cells (NB2a).  The purpose of this study was to identify phenotypic effects in vitro on NB2a cells after several minutes of chi emission by a Chi Gung Sifu.  A Chi Gung Sifu performed energy emission to 9 plates of equal confluency using two methods: Open Palm and Fingertip.  Time intervals of 6 and 12 minutes were used to evaluate any deviation among emission time.  After all plates were counted via hemacytometer and compared to controls.  Results showed time difference (6 vs. 12 minutes) did not have any significant impact.  Open Palm-type emission rendered to be non-statistically significant, showing an overall 2.87% decrease from control plates.  Fingertip emission, however, showed an overall decrease of 50.23%.  The change in cancer cell plates receiving Fingertip emission compared to controls suggests there may be direct in vivo anti-cancer benefits from this modality of substanceless medicine.  Click here for full study report.

NOTE: The results of this study have encouraged additional research be undertaken to confirm results.  Look for additional studies to be funded and undertaken in the next year or two.