How Gentle Exercise Transforms Your Brain

In our Western world, weíve been taught that when it comes to exercise, itís ďno pain, no gain.Ē But, research shows that this mindset may actually be antiquated. More and more research shows that when it comes to exercise for brain health benefits, a better mantra might be ďno pain, all gain.Ē Thatís because the Eastern form of exercise known as qigong (a form of tai chi) has been found to improve brain health and may even be a potential treatment for brain disease.

Qigong (pronounced chee-GUNG and sometimes spelled chi gong) is a beautiful and graceful form of gentle exercise that originates in China as part of the country’s traditional system of medicine.

A new study in the medical journal Complementary Therapies in Medicine found that people who participated in qigong three times a week for 8 weeks had improved cognitive function than prior to doing qigong. The researchers found that the gentle exercise improved attention, brain processing speed and overall mental capacity. As an added bonus, study participants experienced improved blood pressure, and heart and lung fitness.

While the exercise has beneficial effects on the brains of healthy individuals, it also has proven itself helpful in the treatment of brain diseases. A pilot study published in the International Journal of Neuroscience found significant improvements in symptoms of Parkinsonís disease sufferers when they engaged in qigong for 6 weeks. They found that following qigong, people showed improvements in sleep quality and significant improvements in gait performance. While the study was small, the results were impressive. And any treatment that shows improvement in Parkinsonís disease, particularly one lacking harmful side effects, is worth serious consideration. And, a recent study in the online medical journal PLoS One confirms the improvement of Parkinsonís symptoms with gentle exercise.

Parkinsonís disease sufferers arenít the only ones who can benefit from qigong. New research published in the journal Explore found that qigong may be helpful in the recovery of people who have suffered a mild traumatic brain injury. That doesnít mean that it isnít helpful for moderate to severe traumatic brain injury survivors, but rather that this particular study didnít assess qigong with these people.

Another study in the International Journal of Behavioural Medicine found that the gentle exercise of qigong also reduced depression, anxiety and overall psychological wellbeing.

Whether you’re looking to maximize your brain health or treat a wide variety of brain diseases like Parkinson’s, traumatic brain injury, depression, anxiety or just boost your emotional and mental health, you might want to give qigong a try. Even if you have mobility issues or reduced exercise capacity, you may be able to participate in and benefit from this gentle form of exercise.

How to Benefit from the Research

Itís easy to start benefiting from tai chi or qigong exercises. Sign up for a local class, pick up an instructional video from your library or online bookstore, or follow along with a book on the topic. Whatever you choose, the brain health rewards will likely be worth the minimal effort.

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Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM is the publisher of the free e-news Worldís Healthiest News, president of PureFood BC, and an international best-selling and 20-time published book author whose works include: Boost Your Brain Power in 60 Seconds:† The 4-Week Plan for a Sharper Mind, Better Memory, and Healthier Brain.


Julia S
Julia S6 hours ago

Thank you!

W. C
W. C11 hours ago


William C
William C12 hours ago

Thank you.

Filomena C
Filomena Cyesterday

Very good!

Margaret Morgan
Margaret Morgan2 days ago

Tai chi has been recommended and commonly avail yet no mention of qigong. I would have to search for classes if they are avail.

Margie FOURIE2 days ago

I try

Carole R
Carole R2 days ago

Good information.

Pamela Lebowitz
Pamela Lebowitz3 days ago


Ian Crory
Ian C4 days ago

TY :)

Isma kumar
Isma kumar4 days ago

I really like this article . perhaps because I love Qui Gong as it is so gentle and powerful.