Improve Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Symptoms with Qigong

Improve Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Symptoms with Qigong


By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.


Along with traditional medical treatments, pulmonary exercise has been utilized to increase endurance during physical activity and decrease breathlessness.  Reports using TaiQi and Qigong have shown better functional capacity and pulmonary function in patients with COPD.” – Ryan Killarney


Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases (COPD) are progressive lung diseases that obstruct airflow. The two main types of COPD are chronic bronchitis and emphysema. COPD is very serious being the third leading cause of death in the United States, over 140,000 deaths per year and the number of people dying from COPD is growing. More than 11 million people have been diagnosed with COPD, but an estimated 24 million may have the disease without even knowing it. COPD causes serious long-term disability and early death. Symptoms develop slowly. Over time, COPD can interfere with the performance of routine tasks and is thus a major cause of disability in the United States. COPD is not contagious. Most of the time, treatment can ease symptoms and slow progression.


There is no cure for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases (COPD). Treatments include lifestyle changes, medicine, bronchodilators, steroids, pulmonary rehabilitation, oxygen therapy, and surgery. They all attempt to relieve symptoms, slow the progress of the disease, improve exercise tolerance, prevent and treat complications, and improve overall health. Mindful Movement practices such Tai Chi and qigong are ancient Chinese practices involving mindfulness and gentle movements. They are easy to learn, safe, and gentle. So, it may be appropriate for patients with COPD who lack the ability to engage in strenuous exercises to engage in these gentle practices.


In today’s Research News article “Effect of Qigong on self-rating depression and anxiety scale scores of COPD patients: A meta-analysis.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at:, Wu and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of the published research findings of the effectiveness of Qigong practice in the treatment of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases (COPD). They found 6 published randomized controlled trials including a total of 415 participants.


They report that the research studies found that Qigong practice produced significant improvements in lung function and significant reductions in anxiety and depression in the patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases (COPD). It is not known if the improvement in lung function was responsible for the mood improvements in the patients or if this was an independent effect of  Qigong practice. Since Qigong is usually practiced in groups, the increased socialization may also have been responsible for the improvements in mood.


These are interesting and important findings. Qigong practice is a very gentle exercise that only mildly increases respiration and as such it is surprising that there were such marked improvements in lung function. But the results clearly suggest that Qigong practice is an excellent safe and effective treatment for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases (COPD) improving the patients physical and psychological well-being.


So, improve Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) symptoms with Qigong.


The gentle movements of tai chi can improve the lives and boost the exercise endurance of people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.” – Matt McMillen


CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies


This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ and on Twitter @MindfulResearch


Study Summary


Wu, J. J., Zhang, Y. X., Du, W. S., Jiang, L. D., Jin, R. F., Yu, H. Y., … Han, M. (2019). Effect of Qigong on self-rating depression and anxiety scale scores of COPD patients: A meta-analysis. Medicine, 98(22), e15776. doi:10.1097/MD.0000000000015776




To explore the clinical efficacy and safety of Qigong in reducing the self-rating depression scale (SDS) and self-rating anxiety scale (SAS) scores of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).


We searched CNKI, Wan fang, Chongqing VIP, China Biology Medicine disc, PubMed, Cochrane Library, and EMBASE for studies published as of Dec 31, 2018. All randomized controlled trials of Qigong in COPD patients, which met the inclusion criteria were included. The Cochrane bias risk assessment tool was used for literature evaluation. RevMan 5.3 software was used for meta-analysis.


Six studies (combined n = 415 patients) met the inclusion criteria. Compared with conventional therapy alone, Qigong in combination with conventional therapy significantly improved the following outcome measures: SDS score [mean difference (MD) −3.99, 95% CI (−6.17, −1.82), P < .001, I2 = 69%]; SAS score[MD −4.57, 95% CI (−5.67, −3.48), P < .001, I2 = 15%]; forced expiratory volume in one second/prediction (FEV1% pred) [MD 3.77, 95% CI (0.97,6.58), P < .01, I2 = 0]; forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) [MD 0.21, 95% CI (0.13, 0.30), P < .001, I2 = 0%]; forced vital capacity (FVC) [MD 0.28, 95% CI (0.16, 0.40), P < .001, I2 = 0]; 6-minute walk test (6MWT) distance [MD 39.31, 95% CI (18.27, 60.34), P < .001, I2 = 32%]; and St. George’s Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ) total score [MD −11.42, 95% CI (−21.80, −1.03), P < .05, I2 = 72%].


Qigong can improve the SDS and SAS scores of COPD patients, and has auxiliary effects on improving lung function, 6MWT distance, and SGRQ score.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *