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Tai Chi and Qi Gong - Topic Overview

What are tai chi and qi gong?

Tai chi and qi gong (say "chee goong") are traditional Chinese movement exercises. They are based on two ideas:

  • Energy, called qi or chi, flows through the body along "energy pathways" called meridians. If the flow of chi is blocked or unbalanced at any point on a pathway, it is thought that you may become ill. You do tai chi and qi gong to increase energy (chi or qi) flow and improve health through gentle, graceful, repeated movements.
  • Nature, including the body, consists of opposing forces called yin and yang. Good health results when these forces are in balance. You do tai chi and qi gong movements in an attempt to help restore the body's balance of yin and yang.

Tai chi is a series of movements done either very slowly or quickly to help move the body's chi. People use tai chi as a way to combine meditation and movement and to improve and maintain health.

Qi gong involves different movements that may be done in different orders. Some common qi gong movements include raising and lowering the arms, moving the head from side to side, and gently rubbing the ears, feet, and hands.

What are tai chi and qi gong used for?

People may use tai chi and qi gong to improve posture, balance, coordination, endurance, and flexibility and to maintain good health and quality of life. One study found that tai chi boosts immunity and resistance to the shingles virus in older adults.1

Are tai chi and qi gong safe?

As with any physical activity, people who perform tai chi or qi gong may experience muscle strains or sprains. Gentle stretching before a tai chi or qi gong session can prevent most injuries.

In most cases, you can safely use tai chi or qi gong alongside conventional medical treatments.

Always tell your doctor if you are using an alternative therapy or if you are thinking about combining an alternative therapy with your conventional medical treatment. It may not be safe to forgo your conventional medical treatment and rely only on an alternative therapy.

1

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: June 29, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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