Qigong is an ancient practice based on Taoist philosophy for the cultivation of the life energy, which is referred to as Qi. It consists of a series of movements, breathing, meditation and body posture designed to balance and optimize the energy (Qi) within.

Qigong induces a relaxed state

More specifically, Qigong involves repetitive movements that are used to strengthen and stretch the body, increasing circulation of body fluids, enhancing balance, and building awareness of the self and the body in space.

As a whole the practice promotes relaxation through reduced metabolism, decreased heart rate, lowered blood pressure, and reduced respiratory rate. These symptoms reflect decreased sympathetic nervous activity, which is a system typically active during stress. Furthermore, studies show that it diminishes dysregulation in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (i.e., a brain circuit that is activated during stress, releasing stress hormones).

Its beneficial impact on physical health has been validated for various medical conditions including hypertension, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, cardiac disease, pain and immune-related ailments.

Effects of Qigong on anxiety and mental health

Similarly, research indicates that Qigong yields positive effects on mental health, and particularly on mood. For example, findings suggest improvements in psychological well-being, which could be attributed to the relaxed state elicited by the practice.

Notably, in addition to the practice itself Qigong involves peer learning, social support, and positive expectation, which altogether may contribute to enhancing well-being.

By contrast, reports of its effects on anxiety and depression are still limited. For example, one study indicates that Qigong significantly (i.e., a statistical term meaning that the results are not due to chance) reduces self-reported anxiety and depression; however there is no effect on tension, vigor and confusion. Thus, the results do indicate a positive effect, albeit not a strong one.

It is noteworthy to add that long-time Qigong practitioners appear to benefit from the anxiolytic effects (i.e., reduce anxiety) of Qigong after just one session of 30 minutes, which suggests that long-term practice has advantageous benefits for mood health.


Wang, F., Man, J. K., Lee, E. K., Wu, T., Benson, H., Fricchione, G. L., Wang, W., & Yeung, A. (2013). The effects of qigong on anxiety, depression, and psychological well-being: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2013, 152738.

Johansson, M., Hassmén, P., & Jouper, J. (2008). Acute effects of qigong exercise on mood and anxiety. International Journal of Stress Management, 15(2), 199–207.


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