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What Is Qigong And How Does It Benefit Women’s Health?

What is Qigong? Similar to yoga and Tai Chi, this exercise is deeply rooted in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and has benefits for women, especially.

Woman doing qigong min scaled

What is Qigong? Whether you’re a working mom, a stay-at-home mom, a professional without kids, or a retiree, Qigong is one exercise you’ll want to try.

As women age, hormonal changes and stress can drain our energy. Exercising is a great way to reduce physical and mental fatigue.

Qigong can help reduce stress to balance hormone levels. This helps with energy and fatigue. It can also combat menstrual pain and hot flashes.

You can manage all these with Qigong, a gentle, relaxing workout that’s far from intense. Rooted in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Qigong might be the best option for women who are too busy or unmotivated to exercise.

Read on to learn what is Qigong and how it can help benefit women’s health.

What is Qigong?

A woman practicing Qigong
In TCM, Qigong is used to cultivate natural energy, promote relaxation, and balance hormones.

Qigong is derived from “qi” and “gong.” In TCM, qi is the energy that flows inside the human body, while gong is the practice that cultivates qi.

Based on the word origin, Qigong can be described as an exercise that cultivates qi or natural energy. It integrates meditation, breathing therapies, body movements, and coordinated body posture.

  • Qigong focuses on the self-awareness of posture and stillness, which aims to reach the deep states of body-mind relaxation and calmness. 
  • It is closely related to Tai Chi because they share similar theories, components and aspects of TCM.
  • Likewise, Qigong is often compared to yoga, as the principles behind the two exercises are similar.

However, Qigong features a simpler and more repetitive form. This characteristic is why it is believed to be most suitable for women who are less likely to participate in vigorous activities.

What Are Qigong Benefits For Women?

Besides its lack of difficulty, Qigong is also known for its health properties, which can benefit women of all ages and backgrounds.

By cultivating qi, it offers many health advantages for women, including: 

Alleviates Pre-Menstrual Syndrome (PMS) symptoms

Affecting women every month, PMS can be physically and mentally painful. Although gentle, TCM believes that Qigong’s maneuvers work as a deep inner massage that enhances women’s pelvic health, preparing their bodies for each menstrual cycle

A 2007 review published in The Journal of Pain presented evidence that Qigong can utilize its energy-healing power to intervene with pain in general.

As for PMS, a 2015 article in the International Journal of Complementary & Alternative Medicine illustrated a trial where female college students successfully reduced their negative feelings, pain, and water retention following several Qigong sessions.

Participants in another study also managed to reduce depression, anxiety, and cramps. Since hormonal imbalances contribute to menstrual cramps, it may be able to help regulate hormones.

Prepares a woman’s body for pregnancy 

According to TCM, certain forms can help women prepare for pregnancy. The Jade Woman form, for example, can be applied in the first two trimesters. The Nourishing Woman can be performed throughout pregnancy and also after giving birth. Furthermore, TCM thinks that Qigong can promote breast milk production as well.

A 2010 study on pregnant women in Korea found that the mothers-to-be had a higher maternal or fetal interaction after practicing the exercises. They also had lower depressive symptoms and physical discomfort. 

Relieves menopause symptoms 

Menopausal symptoms can be unbearable. They range from hot flashes, night sweats, headaches, insomnia, irritability, loss of sexual interest, and decreased quality of life.

From TCM’s perspective, Qigong can help women get through the symptoms by bringing their organs and hormone levels to a healthy equilibrium.

A study in Taiwan has proven that Qigong has impressive outcomes. After practicing it for 30 minutes every day for 12 weeks, a group of menopausal women improved their symptoms. 

Improves mental health 

Thanks to Qigong’s potential to regulate hormones, TCM believes that the exercise can fight exhaustion, migraine, depression, anxiety, and insomnia. 

Research revealed that Qigong could also decrease pro-inflammatory cytokines (small proteins that control the growth and activity of other cells), causing less stress.

It may help with mental health by activating the parasympathetic nervous system. This is part of the nervous system that induces a state of rest and relaxation.

Meanwhile, multiple studies have shown that a form of Qigong called Ba Duan Jin is the most effective in reducing depression, anxiety, anger, tiredness, and hostility.

Ba Duan Jin can also increase energy, self-esteem, and interpersonal sensitivity. A study conducted on women with breast cancer found that Ba Duan Jin can relieve depression and anxiety in patients.

Supports posture and muscle strength

A young woman performing Qigong in the park
Qigong can help support posture, muscle endurance, flexibility, and posture.

It is thought that aligning the body with Qigong’s slow movements can support balance, coordination, strength, flexibility, and posture. 

There is evidence that Qigong can improve muscle endurance and strength. A 2021 study in Spain found that a 12-week program is beneficial for older women’s muscle strength and static posture. 

Promotes anti-aging  

From TCM’s point of view, Qigong can replenish Kidney jing (essence). In doing so, it can help strengthen immunity, nourish the bones, maintain sexual vitality, energize the body, sharpen the mind, and heighten the spirit. 

Research showed that women participating in Ba Duan Jin exhibited changes in chest size. Plus, they reduced their waist, hipline, and belly skinfold thickness.

The result in weight control was even more evident when combined with the consumption of calcium pyruvate (a weight loss supplement).   

Summary Of Qigong Benefits For Women

Experts have also discovered that Qigong improves immunity and reduces inflammation. Ba Duan Jin can promote anti-aging by increasing antioxidant enzymes and preventing bone loss. All in all, these qualities suggest that Qigong may possess an anti-aging prowess. 

Not only does Qigong have many health benefits, but it also doesn’t strain your body, unlike other kinds of exercise. While it might not be as popular as yoga or Tai Chi, more women should consider it an ideal workout.

This is an adaptation of an article, “Qigong: Every Woman’s Workout,” which first appeared on the Eu Yan Sang website

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