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Qigong exercise helps kids reduce stress

Friday, January 14, 2011 by: Dr. Randall Neustaedter, OMD
Tags: Qigong, stress, health news

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(NewsTarget) In a controlled study published in September 2010 of 156 7th graders aged 13 and 14 years-old, students were taught and practiced qigong moving meditation during school. Kids in the control group had normal school activities. The qigong group practiced for 25 minutes twice a week for 8 weeks. Prior to and after the study all the children received surveys to assess well-being at school, psychological distress, self-image, and stress. The qigong group had reduced psychological distress and stress, and improved self-image compared to the control group. Students also answered an open question about whether qigong practice had affected them. Answers included statements like: "It gives you a chance to calm down" (18 pupils), or "I feel more alert and awake" (11 pupils), or "I am more concentrated," or "I work better after qigong" (Terjestam 2010).

Many kids (34 percent) were not motivated to do the exercises. They said they found them boring. Getting students to participate in meditation or moving meditation exercise like qigong, tai chi, or yoga may need to be encouraged or required at school. The benefits of these practices for students have been documented in several previous studies. A study of elementary school second grade students showed that qigong improved behavior and grades (Witt 2005). Another study of elementary and high school students showed that qigong had a significant effect on reducing aggression with a calming and energizing influence (Witt 2007). Tai chi has demonstrated similar benefits for children. A study of tai chi in adolescents documented improvement in anxiety, conduct, and hyperactivity, with less expression of inappropriate emotions (Hernandez-Reif 2001).

Stress reactions, depression, and anxiety are common symptoms in students. Reactions to stress such as headaches, stomach pain, and sleep disturbance are also common during adolescence. Any practice that has a calming effect should be beneficial for stress reduction in students. Qigong has also been reported to improve sleep, decrease headaches, and have a beneficial effect on cardiovascular disease and several other health problems (Jahnke 2010). Students who are vulnerable to the increasing stress of school would be especially helped by these forms of moving meditation.


Hernandez-Reif M, Fiels TM, Thimas E. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: Benefits from Tai chi. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapy. 2001; 5:120-123.

Jahnke R, Larkey L, Rogers C, Etnier J, Lin F. A comprehensive review of health benefits of qigong and tai chi. American Journal of Health Promotion. 2010 Jul-Aug;24(6):e1-e25.

Terjestam Y, Jouper J, Johansson C. Effects of scheduled Qigong exercise on people's well-being, self-image, distress, and stress. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 2010; 16 (9):939-944.

Witt C, Becker M, Bandelin K, Soellner R, Willich SN. Qigong for schoolchildren: A pilot study. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 2005; 11 (1):41-47.

Witt C, Becker M, Bandelin K, Willich SN. Xianggong ('Fragrant Qigong) for the health of school children: A qualitative pilot study of feasibility and effects. Journal of Chinese Medicine. 2007, 84:46-51.

About the author

Dr. Randall Neustaedter, OMD, has practiced and taught holistic medicine for more than thirty years in the San Francisco Bay area, specializing in child health care. He is a licensed acupuncturist and doctor of Chinese medicine, author of The Holistic Baby Guide, Child Health Guide and The Vaccine Guide. Visit his website, www.cure-guide.com, to register for a free newsletter with pediatric specialty articles and follow him on Facebook, username cureguide1 or Dr. Randall Neustaedter, OMD.

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