Qigong belongs to a new category of exercise called Meditative Movement whose practice includes biological, social, and psychological aspects of health. As a scientifically proven biopsychosocial practice with therapeutic benefits, Qigong addresses shortcomings of the standard western biomedical model of health care that have been identified by the U.S. Veterans Health Administration and National Center for Complementary and Integrative Medicine (NCCIH) whole person health initiatives. Broadening the concept of health care beyond diagnosing and treating pathologies can include ways to clinically measure physical and emotional well-being and resilience at all stages of life. Both organizations are actively promoting the expansion of health care in order to include disease prevention and provide active treatment for chronic diseases and comorbidities.
The Global Wellness Institute, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to empower wellness worldwide by educating public and private sectors about preventative health and wellness, defines “mindful movement” as “exercise modalities that combine movement with mental/internal focus, body awareness, and controlled breathing, with the intention to improve strength, balance, flexibility, posture and body alignment, and overall health” and includes activities such as Qigong, Tai Chi, and Yoga. Tai Chi and Qigong are a $5.4B market; 1.2% of the world’s population practice Qigong and Tai Chi on a regular basis (90 to 100 million people); and mindful movement is the current #1 growth sector of the physical activity economy. Mindful movement practices are experiencing double digit growth in countries around the world. A major factor driving the proliferation of mindful movement practices is the growing recognition of their physical and mental health benefits and the scientific research confirming this.
Qigong Health Care can be a powerful component of Western models of health care systems which prioritize biopsychosocial whole person health and where prevention and wellness are primary aspects of care. The practice of Qigong combines physical exercise with the proven benefits of meditation and can be promoted to the public as an essential life skill. This publication describes the scientific research progress, issues, and challenges of integrating Qigong Health Care into Western medicine and health care.
Author: Tom Rogers Editor: Josie Weaver
“ Well-being has the potential to serve as a common language through which patients, clinicians, researchers, medical administrators, and policymakers can come together to define meaningful goals, values, and measures across a spectrum of care.”
The basis of Qigong Health Care is using Qigong in clinical care, public health promotion, and health research. As a comprehensive system of breathing exercises, body postures and movements, and mental concentration, Qigong is a health care solution that can be more widely adopted in societies throughout the world. Thus, Qigong Health Care is a conceptualization of a health care framework that can be adopted and supported by health professionals, researchers, policy makers, and individuals to create health. Given that health and health care are multifaceted, the discussion of Qigong Health Care involves appraisals of the current healthcare delivery system and issues involved in changing it to accommodate Qigong Health Care. Among the issues are the concept of dispensing versus creating health, patient education versus patient treatment, and pragmatic issues that involve clear and consistent terminology and definitions of health, wellness, and the description of physiological states of wellness and meditation, which can affect legislation and public health policy. Taken together, the issues and discussion present an opportunity to redefine and augment medicine beyond treatment and intervention for disease and also pose an invitation to individuals to engage in self-care in the creation of health.
Western medical practice treats health care and clinical therapy as a metaphorical “fire extinguisher” intended to be used only for emergencies and medical intervention versus disease prevention, exercise, and wellbeing. The medicalization of health and health care interventions such as Qigong presupposes a malady or condition that must be addressed. The original definition of medicine is that it is an inner power that can be cultivated. Western medicine defines the term medical care as constituting a practice that includes making a diagnosis and prescribing targeted interventions and potentially pharmacological prescriptions for specific health conditions. A new definition of health care which incorporates psychosocial aspects within a particular intervention would mean the target is not only a health condition, but the system (the whole person) in which it occurs. With chronic diseases now accounting for most morbidity in Western countries, and an epidemic of obesity, health care systems designed around acute biomedical care models are struggling to improve patient-reported outcomes and reduce health-care costs. The opportunity to expand biomedical models to include the multifaceted and complex nature of creating health and well-being can be realized when the biopsychosocial practice of Qigong is consistently applied across health care management, measurement, and implementation.
NCCIH and the VA are promoting research and initiatives that are moving beyond the biomedical model. Their joint Enhancing Well-Being Measurement report released in June 2021 concludes that health research, clinical care, and public health promotion need to move from a more limited focus on disease and dysfunction to incorporate a focus on well-being.
Reprinted with permission (NCCIH 2021)
To quote from the report:
“Well-being has the potential to serve as a common language through which patients, clinicians, researchers, medical administrators, and policymakers can come together to define meaningful goals, values, and measures across a spectrum of care.”
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Enhancing Well-Being Measurement in Health Research, Clinical Care, and Population Health Promotion. 2021.
The goal of Qigong Health Care is to widen the definition of the word “medical” to include and emphasize health, wellness, and prevention as well as intervention and acute care. Self-care fits in prevention and overall health management, and it is a life-long skill that must be consistently practiced over time in order to maintain the benefit. Central to Qigong Health Care is appropriate and long lasting behavior change. This invites the consumer of health care services to take an active role in pursuing health.Consequently, the important line between education and treatment provides a guide for how hospitals and clinics can teach patients health cultivation skills through offering Qigong and wellness classes as behavioral health interventions. When patients take wellness and health cultivation classes (Qigong, yoga, and the like), they learn how to positively affect their own body and behavior to become active participants in creating their own health and healing. Qigong provides a way to give patients an empowering and tangible exercise to bring a positive perspective and personal participation to their healing and creation of health. This type of "take-home" exercise is what physicians and health care providers can offer patients instead of or in addition to prescribing medication. Getting patients into receptive and healing states through Qigong and related wellness practices can support them throughout treatment and therapy, and thereby increase the likelihood of positive outcomes.
An Introduction to Qigong Health Care
“Since its founding under the leadership of the late Ken Sancier, the Qigong Institute has served as an objective organization for gathering and disseminating scientific evidence supporting the health benefits of Qigong and related practices. The Institute’s latest report, An Introduction to Qigong Health Care: Meditative Movement Exercise for Whole Person Health—authored by Tom Rogers—is a comprehensive and very accessible resource for all interested in Qigong for health, including practitioners, teachers, scientists and policy makers. “
Peter Wayne, PhD
Associate Professor of Medicine
Director, Osher Center for Integrative Medicine
Harvard Medical School
Author, Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi
“Tom Rogers and the Qigong Institute have done a wonderful job of curating the rapidly growing body of peer-reviewed research on the psychological and physiological health-related benefits of Qigong and Tai Chi. In addition to providing a degree of relief for a number of persistent symptoms and quality of life issues for cancer patients and survivors, as moderate-intensity exercise they are safe for people with chronic health conditions, physical limitations, and older adults. They also provide accessible exercise programming for more frail, home or chair-bound, healthy or unhealthy elderly, and chronically ill. Tom brings together in one place a body of scientific knowledge explaining the fundamentals of the practices and provides a synthesis for creating primary prevention behaviors and community-based health practices which can be disseminated widely and encourage easy and affordable at-home care for individuals to take charge of their health. “
Linda Larkey, PhD
Professor, Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation
Arizona State University
"Qigong fosters mind-body integration through the practice and refinement of interoception skills that characterize Qigong and all Meditative Movement exercises. The integration of body movement, breath practice and present moment focus to enhance mind-body function and coherence encourages and promotes adaptation, resilience, and sustainable wellbeing. Tom Rogers and the Qigong Institute have produced a powerful cross-disciplinary reference document for any policy makers, funders, teachers, medical professionals, clinicians, and academics wishing to raise health status, reduce medical costs, and empower everyone to create health. ”
Dr. Roger Jahnke, OMD
Dr. of Chinese Medicine
Director of the Institute of Integral Qigong and Tai Chi (IIQTC)
Author, The Healer Within.
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