Integrative Medicine Blog

Using Movement to Fight Cancer

Rebecca Rice L.Ac., MSAOM Sunday, October 08, 2017
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Scientific review shows that tai chi and qi gong have positive effects for people with cancer.

Exercise is always an essential part of ensuring muscle strength, joint flexibility, adequate blood circulation and enhancing one’s mood. The gentle movements of tai chi and qi gong can be beneficial forms of exercise during and after cancer treatment.

A 2014 scientific review of qi gong and tai chi found that these revered therapies have positive effects for cancer patients; namely an enhanced quality of life including decreased fatigue, enhanced immune function and positive effects on cortisol levels. Alongside other forms of exercise tai chi has demonstrated benefits for the reduction of anxiety and insomnia.

Rooted in Chinese medicine and Taoist philosophy, tai chi and qi gong share the fundamental qualities of relaxation and slowness, comprised of specific movements, breathing exercises and meditations. There are many forms of qi gong and tai chi techniques that allow the practitioner greater range of motion while promoting self awareness. As practices, tai chi and qi gong boost one’s vitality by circulating qi and blood along meridians (energetic pathways). Subtle and repetitive micro movements of the muscles help to establish strength and balance without the requirement of undue exertion.

There are several styles of tai chi utilized today, the most common are Yang style and Chen style which are widely practiced in the United States. There are also numerous qi gong styles that are used to heal oneself and also applied as a healing modality by Chinese medical practitioners. Both tai chi and qi gong can be used as foundations and as lifelong pathways for mental, emotional and physical well being.


1. Great Grand Master Kellen Chia:

2.Zeng Y, Luo T, Xie H, Huang M, Cheng AS. Health benefits of qigong or tai chi for cancer patients: a systematic review and meta-analyses. Complementary Therapies in Medicine 2014; 22(1): 173-186.

3.Exercise interventions on health-related quality of life for cancer survivors.Shiraz I Mishra1,Roberta W Scherer, Paula M Geigle, Debra R Berlanstein, Ozlem Topaloglu, Carolyn C Gotay, Claire Snyder. Cochrane Gynecological, Neuro-oncology and Orphan Cancer Group.Published Online: 15 AUG 2012