The gentle, healing power of Qigong

The gentle, healing power of Qigong

It’s a part of daily wellness in China, but it’s not as well known in the U.S. – it’s Qigong.

Qigong (pronounced “chee gong”) is an ancient Chinese medicine practice that has been used to promote health and well-being for more than 5,000 years. It harnesses the energy of your mind, breath, movement and posture, and involves:

  • Slow, long, deep breathing that may be combined with verbal sounds
  • Gentle, smooth, slow movements for relaxation
  • Focused intention, visualization and meditation

Dr. Jennifer Weibel, a sports medicine physician at Aurora Heath Care, says, “Practicing Qigong as a form of exercise and mind-body and relaxation technique can lead to a number of health benefits for people of all ages. It can especially help older adults and their overall quality of life.”

The potential benefits of Qigong include:
  • Improving balance and physical ability: A scientific review of studies found that it was as or more effective than traditional interventions for balance and preventing falls.
  • Easing symptoms of arthritis: Another scientific review analyzed trial data and concluded the chinese practice may be an effective strategy for those with painful and disabling arthritis. It can help reduce pain and improve flexibility and posture, as well as hand grip strength, trunk mobility and sleep.
  • Enhancing mood and reduced depression: Both studies also suggest individuals practicing Qigong can experience less depression and anxiety and have improved emotional well-being and self-efficacy.

The research further indicates that Qigong appears to be helpful even if practiced for just 15 minutes a day.

Is Qigong the same as Tai Chi?  

Dr. Wiebel says that although they are similar, there are a few differences.

Tai Chi originated as a martial art intended for self-defense and combat. It’s more complex with emphasis on strict, proper form, while Qigong is less rigid and more free form. However, Tai Chi incorporates elements of Qigong and when practiced for health and wellness, is a form of Qigong.

You can find many Qigong videos online, choosing routines that suit your own needs, health limitations and flexibility. Like with any new exercise, it’s a good idea to check with your doctor before starting.

“One of the things I like about Qigong is just about anyone – no matter their age, fitness level, physical condition or mobility – can practice it,” Dr. Weibel says. “It can be done standing, seated or even lying in bed, ensuring everyone can experience the benefits of this gentle practice.”

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  1. Does Advocate Physical Therapy offer this and does Medicare pay for it?
    Thank you

  2. Where is this class located on Thursdays?

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About the Author

Mary Arens
Mary Arens

Mary Arens, health enews contributor, is a senior content specialist at Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. She has 20+ years of experience in communications plus a degree in microbiology. Outside of work, Mary makes healthy happen with hiking, yoga, gardening and walks with her dog, Chester.