Medical Research

BuQi Characters

Medical Research on Taiji & Qigong

 Great Huffington Post Tai Chi Article 

 Excellent List of Tai Chi research Articles 

The Health Benefits of Tai Chi

A Comprehensive Review of Health Benefits of Qigong and Tai Chi (US National Library of Medicine)

The Conclusion below is an extract from the above, probably the most extensive review of medical research programmes assessing the benefits of Tai Chi & Qigong ever undertaken.


A compelling body of research emerges when Tai Chi studies and the growing body of Qigong studies are combined. The evidence suggests that a wide range of health benefits accrue in response to these meditative movement forms, some consistently so, and some with limitations in the findings thus far. This review has identified numerous outcomes with varying levels of evidence for the efficacy for Qigong and Tai Chi, including bone health, cardiopulmonary fitness and related biomarkers, physical function, falls prevention and balance, general quality of life and patient reported outcomes, immunity, and psychological factors such as anxiety, depression and self-efficacy. A substantial number RCTs have demonstrated consistent, positive results especially when the studies are designed with limited activity for controls. When both Tai Chi and Qigong are investigated together, as two approaches to a single category of practice, meditative movement, the magnitude of the body of research is quite impressive.

So What?

Application to research

The current state of research splinters these TCM-based wellness practices by identifying them with different names, and treating them as separate and different methodologies. Our intent has been to recognize the common critical elements of Qigong and Tai Chi, based on the similarities in philosophy and practice and the range of findings for similar health outcomes, and to treat the two as equivalent forms. Studies in the future should acknowledge these elements, and even test for intervention fidelity, to assure that the practices do, in fact, reflect the guiding principles of Tai Chi and Qigong. Beyond this we assert that it is critical to begin delineating the practice characteristics that actually do differ both between and within these practices, so that a more specific body of knowledge can begin to accumulate about the types of practices, the component features of the practices and their effects on health-related outcomes.

Some studies of these forms of meditative movement indicate that study participants with severe, chronic, progressive illnesses may be slower to respond or not respond at all to the practices. Interestingly, however, other studies suggest that these practices may improve or slow the progression of such illnesses. This may be especially likely when the practices are implemented early as an aspect of wellness, prevention or disease management in a proactive, risk reduction context. These findings suggest that continued research on these and other forms of meditative movement is warranted for a broad number of conditions and across populations.

The wide variations in populations and outcomes studied, descriptions of interventions (or the lack of such description), reports of dose, and the extreme variety in the sorts of tools used to assess outcomes, point to the need to develop more standardized protocols and trends in measurement for the field of meditative movement research. Application in health promotion

The preponderance of findings are positive for a wide range of health benefits in response to Tai Chi, and a growing evidence base for similar benefits for Qigong. As described, the foundational similarities and the often adapted Tai Chi protocols which more closely resemble forms of Qigong, allow us to suggest that outcomes can be counted across both types of studies, further supporting claims of equivalence.

In a recent review addressing Tai Chi and Qigong research among older adults, it was pointed out that no adverse events were reported across studies.125 

 The substantial potential for achieving health benefits, the minimal cost incurred by this form of self-care, and the apparent safety of implementation across populations, points to the importance of wider implementation and dissemination. The health promotion challenge is that both Tai Chi and Qigong are still often considered novel forms of exercise and adopted by a small market segment of our population. On the positive side, however, there is a rapid increase of visibility of what is popularly referenced as Tai Chi which is known as an effective intervention for balance enhancement and falls prevention among the elderly, and there is a growing interest in safe, alternative forms of exercise across all age groups. 

Tai Chi and Qigong interventions provide an accessible alternative option for individuals who may prefer these activities over more conventional or vigorous forms of exercise. The growing interest in these forms of exercise that include a mindful focus on the breath and meditation provides an opportunity for changing the landscape of personal choice making and shifts the motivations that people have to exercise, while presenting an entirely new set of exercise research opportunities. This suggests that Tai Chi and Qigong (or more generally, meditative movement types of exercise) may provide an attractive and effective exercise alternatives for the large populations of people at risk for preventable disease, sedentary, and lacking the motivation to engage in more conventional exercise.