TaiChi-Qigong Research

There is an increasing body of research that reveals the benefits of Tai Chi and Qigong for a variety of diseases and conditions, including multiple sclerosis, stroke, Parkinson's, arthritis, COPD, heart disease, diabetes and much more. As a result, doctors are telling their patients to seek out Tai Chi and Qigong classes. 

There is a need for much more accessible information about the benefits. Below you will find links to a variety of studies and websites that provide information and research.


Dr. Peter Wayne - A Historic Tai Chi Figure

Tai Chi and Postural Stability in Patients with Parkinson's Disease

This study was chosen as a top story by Journal Watch Neurology

Exercise science professor Peter Harmer's publication in The New England Journal of Medicine has been selected as a Top 10 story of 2012 by Journal Watch Neurology. Harmer's study, "Tai Chi and postural stability in patients with Parkinson's disease," was also recognized by the American Academy of Neurology as the most important advance in movement disorders research for 2012.

N Engl J Med 2012; 366:511-519
February 9, 2012DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1107911Fuzhong Li, Ph.D., Peter Harmer, Ph.D., M.P.H., Kathleen Fitzgerald, M.D., Elizabeth Eckstrom, M.D., M.P.H., Ronald Stock, M.D., Johnny Galver, P.T., Gianni Maddalozzo, Ph.D., and Sara S. Batya, M.D.

Web Link: http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1107911#t=articleResults

Author discussion of study results:

We found that a program of twice-weekly tai chi for 24 weeks, as compared with a resistance-training program or a stretching program, was effective in improving postural stability and other functional outcomes in patients with mild-to-moderate Parkinson's disease. Tai chi training also significantly reduced the incidence of falls, as compared with the stretching program. Improvements in primary and secondary outcomes were maintained 3 months after the intervention, a finding that is consistent with prior research involving adults 70 years of age or older.13 No serious adverse events were observed during tai chi training, indicating the safety and usefulness of this intervention for persons with Parkinson's disease.

The improvement in maximum excursion with reduced deviation in movement, as shown on the posturographic limits-of-stability tests, suggests that tai chi training reduced dyskinesia by increasing the ability of the participants to adopt effective sway strategies (at the ankle or hip), engage in controlled movements with improved balance control near the limit of stability, or both. Clinically, these changes indicate increased potential for effectively performing daily life functions, such as reaching forward to take objects from a cabinet, transitioning from a seated to a standing position (and from standing to seated), and walking, while reducing the probability of falls. Similarly, the marked increase in gait velocity in participants in the tai chi group was associated with significant increases in stride length. These improvements in gait characteristics support the efficacy of tai chi in alleviating the bradykinetic movements associated with Parkinson's disease.

The tai chi protocol stresses weight shifting and ankle sway to effectively move the person's center of gravity toward the limits of stability, alternating between a narrow stance and a wide stance to continually change the base of support, increasing support-leg standing time and trailing-leg swing time, engaging rotational trunk movements with upright posture, and performing heel-to-toe (forward) and toe-to-heel (backward) stepping movements to strengthen dorsiflexion and plantar flexion. These inherent training features may have led to improved postural control and walking ability. Although these improvements indicate that tai chi would be effective in enhancing neuromuscular rehabilitation, the mechanisms behind the therapeutic change in participants' motor control and mobility remain less understood and warrant future exploration.

Falls are a common and sometimes life-threatening event in patients with Parkinson's disease.32,33However, to our knowledge, no clinical trial has shown the efficacy of exercise in reducing falls in this population. Thus, this study adds to the behavior-based treatment literature by showing that tai chi can effectively reduce the incidence of falls in patients with Parkinson's disease . . .

In conclusion, tai chi appears to be effective as a stand-alone behavioral intervention designed to improve postural stability and functional ability in people with Parkinson's disease

Tai Ji Quan Exercise for People with Parkinson’s Disease and Other Neurodegenerative Movement Disorders

Fuzhong Li. Tai Ji Quan Exercise for People with Parkinson’s Disease and Other Neurodegenerative Movement Disorders. Int J Integr Med, 2013,1:4. doi: 10.5772/56243

Corresponding author E-mail: fuzhongl@ori.org

This is a review article of recent results in clinical research regarding the efficacy of Tai Chi Chuan in addressing a variety of movement disorders. Below is a short passage from the research (permission is granted for use without restriction as long as there is proper citation.)

"In the past two decades, interest in the health benefits and therapeutic merits of Tai Ji Quan has grown among the biomedical  research  and  clinical  rehabilitation communities. It is now apparent that its unique features of  mind‐body  integration  (i.e.,  mind‐directed movements),  movement  kinematics,  and  inherent postural control mechanisms have made Tai Ji Quan both applicable  and  amenable  to  the  prevention  and/or treatment of various chronic medical conditions [14‐15], including  heart  failure  [16],  fibromyalgia  [17‐18],  and balance impairment [19‐20]. Therefore, translation of the original intent of Tai Ji Quan practice to  contemporary therapeutic applications aimed at preventing or reducing movement‐related disorders  clearly represents a  clinical innovation  with  potential  applications  in  modern behavioural medicine."

  1. Tai Ji Quan Exercise for People with Parkinson's Disease and Other Neurodegenerative Movement disorders (2013; International Journal of Intergrative Medicine)

  2. Tai Chi and Postural Stability in Patients with Parkinson's Disease (2012; New England Journal of Medicine)

  3. Transforming Traditional Tai Ji Quan Techniques into Integrative Movement Therapy: Tai Ji Quan: Moving for Better Balance (2014; Journal of Sport and Health Science )

  4. Implementing an Evidence-Based Fall Prevention Program in an Outpatient Clinical Setting (2013; Journal of American Geriatrics Society)

  5. A Randomized Controlled Trial of Patient-Reported Outcomes with Tai Chi Exercise in Parkinson's Disease (2013; Movement Disorders)

  6. Tai Ji Quan and Global Cognitive Function in Older Adults with Cognitive Impairment: A Pilot Study (2013; Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics)

Benefits of Relaxation Response 

Roger Jahnke's article describes studies showing that mind-body practice that induces the relaxation response (including Tai Chi and Qigong) can change genetic expression, enhance immune response and much more. The article has an excellent bibliography with online links.

21st Century Breakthrough -- Researching the Benefits of Mind-Body Practice by Investigating Genetic Expression, by Dr. Roger Jahnke


Tai Chi exercise may reduce falls in adult stroke survivors

Study Highlights:

  • Tai Chi exercise reduced falls among stroke survivors.
  • The ancient Chinese martial art helped survivors achieve and maintain balance to aid stroke recovery.

HONOLULU, Feb. 6, 2013 — Tai Chi may reduce falls among adult stroke survivors, according to research presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2013.

Compared to survivors receiving usual care or participating in a national fitness program for Medicare-eligible adults called SilverSneakers®, those practicing Tai Chi had the fewest falls. News from American Heart Association

PubMed Article: Tai Chi is good for stroke! 

According to reported global estimates, 15 million people suffer from a stroke each year, resulting in 5.5 million deaths, with 5 million left permanently disabled. Typical disabilities following stroke include poor neuromuscular control, hemodynamic imbalance, and negative mood state. Tai Chi (TC) is associated with better balance, lower blood pressure, and improved mood, which are important for stroke survivors. PubMed

Tai Chi in the News for Chronic Heart Failure

If you have mild to moderate heart failure, the ancient Chinese exercise tai chi may help improve your mood, your ability to exercise independently and your quality of life, according to a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine(Volume 171, page 750). 

Investigators randomly assigned 100 people, average age 67 years, with mild to moderate heart failure to attend tai chi classes for 12 weeks or traditional classes on diet, exercise, medication use and other self-management strategies. Participants in the tai chi group learned a simplified Yang style of tai chi. Both groups received educational materials and the tai chi group also received an instructional video and was encouraged to practice at home at least three times a week.

On average, tai chi participants attended 75 percent of their classes, while those in the standard group attended about 66 percent of their sessions. Those in the tai chi group reported practicing at home for an average of 10 hours each week.

Take-away thought. After 12 weeks, the tai chi group showed significant improvements in indexes used to measure quality of life and mood disturbances and in their ability to exercise independently. Tai chi is a safe complement to standard therapy for heart failure. If you want to give tai chi a try, get clearance from your doctor first. 


Tai chi helps reinvigorate stem cells, researchers find

A Taiwanese study just found that Tai Chi practiced reinvigorates stem cells, says the study just published in the international medical journal Cell Transplantation, increasing the number of stem cells by 3 to 5 times.

Tai Chi practitioners enjoyed improved heart function, reinvigorated neural cells in the brain, balanced excitement and inhibition controls, and helped with mental trauma and nerve exhaustion (a big problem with many people in the modern world).



Qigong Lowers High Blood Pressure!

A recent study confirms that Qi Gong helps to reduce cases of high blood pressure in patients with pre-hypertension and mild hypertension.

A total of 40 participants were randomized into a control group and a Qi Gong group. The Qi Gong group practiced the forms for a total of 5 times per week for a total of 8 weeks. Blood pressure reductions occurred in the Qi Gong group and not in the control group. Systolic blood pressure reduced significantly. Diastolic blood pressure was unaffected.

Read entire article:

Helpful Links for Tai Chi & Qigong Research

Qi Gong for Hypertension

Hypertension (high blood pressure) is one of the most common serious health problems in the United States. The American Heart Association estimates that about 73 million Americans have high blood pressure. In 2004 (the last year for which data is available), hypertension was responsible for 54,707 deaths. Qi Gong may be an effective method for treating hypertension as an alternative to prescription drugs and other allopathic medicine.

Harvard Health Publications: The health benefits of Tai Chi

Tai Chi boosts immunity to shingles virus in older adults, NIH-sponsored study reports

Tai chi for older people reduces falls, may help maintain strength

Holistic Health Resources

Online Holistic, Alternative, Complementary health resources


Multiple Sclerosis Research & Links

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS)

Multiple Sclerosis Association of America (MSAA)

Adaptive Tai Chi for MS (NMSS)

Tai Chi for People with MS (NMSS)



World Tai Chi-Qigong Day Website:  Great Resource for Research on wide variety of health benefits. 


TAI CHI FOR KIDS:  Cari Shurman teaches Tai Chi for Kids around the country. Her website is: www.taichiforkids.com Her website contains a variety of types of information, including many of the items of research listed below. 

Tai Chi and mindfulness-based stress reduction may be transformational tools that can be used in educational programs appropriate for middle school-aged children.

Study done in a Boston Pubic Middle School


The Johnson Center for Pregnancy and Newborn Services of the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital uses Tai Chi to helpi children who have cerebral palsy and other movement disorders. “Tai Chi represents optimal body movement, honed over centuries,” said laboratory director Jessica Rose, PhD.


With slow movements as fluid as silk, the gentle Chinese practice of Tai Chi seems tailor-made for easing sore joints and muscles. The Arthritis Foundation recommends Tai Chi. Some summer camps for children with arthritis teach Tai Chi.


A regular tai chi exercise program can help people (children and adults) better control their diabetes and lower glucose levels, according to a University of Florida study.


Doing Tai Chi for 30 minutes once a week help lower the children’s blood pressure by about 10% average. The greatest reward from teaching tai chi is the number of students who went on to study medicine because of their study of tai chi. Repetitive Strain Injury is very common. Tai Chi movements exercises the entire hand, every joint and every combination of joints to alleviate RSI.


During and after five weeks of tai chi lessons, adolescents with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) showed less anxiety, daydreaming, inappropriate emotions and hyperactivity, according to a study by the Touch Research Institute (TRI).


“Exercise is positively one of the best treatments for ADD. It helps work off excess energy and aggression in a positive way, it allows for noise-reduction within the mind, it stimulates the hormonal and neurochemical systems in a most therapeutic way, and it soothes and calms the body.” Drs. Edward M. Hallowell, M.D., and John J. Ratey, M.D., experts on the management of ADD


Tai Chi can improve the pulmonary function of asthmatic children. However, they caution that long-term follow-up is required to determine the impact of Tai Chi on the severity of asthmatic symptoms. Journal of microbiology, immunology, and infection, February 2008.


Studies on College students showed physical measures of pain and general health, and mental measures of vitality and mental health were significantly improved after Tai Chi. Scores on the mental health dimension appeared to be particularly sensitive to change.


Tai Chi is one of the simplest ways for people who use wheelchairs to improve their physical and mental health.

Dr. Zibin Guo, medical anthropologist,University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Geography


“Study shows that low-intensity exercise such as Tai Chi has great potential for health promotion as it can help older people to avoid falls by developing their balance, muscle strength and confidence.”

Journal of Advanced Nursing


Eight weeks of Tai Chi was associated with significant improvement in balance.


“Taiji practitioners have higher peak oxygen
uptake and higher oxygen uptake at the
ventilatory threshold.

Taiji has positive effects on postural control.

Taiji is an aerobic exercise with moderate


Tai Chi Chuan: State of the Art in International Research: Vol 52 (Medicine &

Sport Science) http://www.jssm.org/vol7/n3/18/v7n3-18pdf.pdf

This collection on the latest and practical research data about the characteristics and beneficial effects of Tai Chi Chuan on various physiological and pathological matters is published as the 52nd  volume of Medicine and Sport Science Journal.

HEALTH BENEFITS OF TAI CHI : helps the heart, improves aerobic activity, relieves arthritis, builds confidence.

TAI CHI RESEARCH show that Tai Chi helps:


TAI CHI HELPS TO REDUCE STRESS  according to a study at the Mayo Clinic

Tai Chi For Kids

Cari Shurman, MAT, founder of WITHIN Wellness Center in Miami, is the creator of Tai Chi Moves for Kids©. She holds a Master of Arts in Teaching degree and is certified as a teacher of Tai Chi and Qigong by the National Qigong Association, is a mentor of the Universal Society of the Integral Way and is a certified teacher of Five Element Qigong by the World Institute of Self Healing.

In her 30 years of teaching and traveling around the world, Shurman observed Tai Chi being used in China as a needed break for students between classes. She says she has found nothing more effective for students than Tai Chi to help them do better and feel better about themselves. She has worked successfully with individual children, as well as groups, teaching them Tai Chi skills and focused energy to help them cope with learning and attention disabilities and hyperactivity as well as improving their day to day concentration and performance. Autistic children have responded extremely well to tai chi movements.

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