Improve the Symptoms of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) with Qigong Practice

Improve the Symptoms of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) with Qigong Practice


By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.


“Qi Gong is an effective, inexpensive, highly accessible and adaptable form of physical, mental and spiritual exercise. . . It is especially beneficial for those who have chronic lung disease. It relieves anxiety/stress, increases energy levels, helps slow the progression of COPD and improves overall quality of life.” – Jessica Jackson


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. The most common cause of COPD is smoking. COPD is not contagious. Most of the time, treatment can ease symptoms and slow progression.


There is no cure for 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. Gentle exercise such as Yoga practice could improve COPD symptoms as it has been shown to improve exercise tolerance and overall health and includes breathing exercises. Indeed, it has been shown that yoga practice improves the mental and physical health of patients with COPD. 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 “The therapeutic effects of qigong in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in the stable stage: a meta-analysis.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at:, Tong and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials exploring the effectiveness of Qigong practice for the treatment of the symptoms of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). They identified 10 randomized controlled trials including a total of 993 participants.


They report that the published randomized controlled trials found that Qigong practice produced a significant improvement in the general physical health of the Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) patients, significant improvements in lung function including increases forced expiratory volume and forced vital capacity, a significant increase in exercise capacity as measured by the distance walked in 6-minutes, and improvements in activities engaged in during daily living. Hence Qigong practice improved the quality of life in COPD patients.


The results of this meta-analysis are remarkable and suggest that Qigong exercise is a safe and effective practice for the improvement of the symptoms of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). In addition, Qigong is a gentle and safe mindfulness practice. It is appropriate for all ages including the elderly and for individuals with illnesses that limit their activities or range of motion. It is inexpensive to administer, can be performed in groups or alone, at home or in a facility, and can be quickly learned. In addition, it can be practiced in social groups. This can make it fun, improving the likelihood of long-term engagement in the practice.


So, improve the symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) with Qigong practice.


“this traditional form of meditation and exercise may be greatly beneficial in rehabilitating older COPD patients, and may be used as a favorable alternative to regular exercise routines.” – Anna Tan


CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies


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


Study Summary


Tong, H., Liu, Y., Zhu, Y., Zhang, B., & Hu, J. (2019). The therapeutic effects of qigong in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in the stable stage: a meta-analysis. BMC complementary and alternative medicine, 19(1), 239. doi:10.1186/s12906-019-2639-9




Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is one global disease. Lung function gradually declines. Medication does not fully reverse the airflow limitation. Qigong’s role in COPD rehabilitation has been assessed. We aimed to assess the effects of Qigong practised by COPD patients.


Eligible articles were obtained through a systematic search. The databased were search on October 8, 2017, and the date range of the searches in the electronic databases had no upper limit. The Cochrane risk-of-bias tool was used to evaluate the quality of the eligible studies. Mean differences with 95% confidence intervals were utilized to analyse the results.


Ten included studies contained 993 participants. Statistical improvements occurred in the 6-min walk distance (6MWD) (MD, 30.57 m; 95% CI, 19.61–41.53 m; P < 0.00001); forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1) (MD, 0.32 L; 95% CI, 0.09–0.56 L; P < 0.001); forced vital capacity rate of 1 s (FEV1/FVC) (MD, 2.66%; 95% CI, 1.32–2.26%; P = 0.0001); forced expiratory volume in 1 s/predicted (FEV1/pre) (MD, 6.04; CI, 2.58–9.5; P = 0.006); Monitored Functional Task Evaluation (MD, 0.88; 95% CI, 0.78–0.99; P < 0.00001); COPD Assessment Test for exercise (MD, − 5.54; 95% CI, − 9.49 to − 1.59; P = 0.006); Short Form-36 Health Quality Survey (SF-36)–General Health (MD, 5.22; 95% CI, 3.65–6.80; P < 0.00001); and Short Form-36 Health Quality Survey (SF-36)–Mental Health (MD, − 1.21; 95% CI, − 2.75 to 0.33; P = 0.12).


In this meta-analysis of RCTs between ten included studies, we found that Qigong can improve COPD patients in lung function, exercise capacity and quality of life who were in the stable stage.

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