In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), the body has a circulation system consisting of twelve primary channels. Instead of carrying only blood, as is the concept in Western medicine, channels also carry Qi throughout the body, which connects all parts to the internal organs. A healthy body is defined as one in which its Qi and blood flow smoothly along all of its meridians.
What is Qigong?
A familiar way of improving the flow of this Qi and blood is through acupuncture points. However, the meridians can also be accessed through specific body movements and resonance of sound, known as Qigong (chee gung). 
The word Qigong is made up of two Chinese words. Qi is usually translated to mean the life force or vital energy that flows through all things in the universe. The second word, gong, means accomplishment or skill that is cultivated through steady practice. Together, Qigong means cultivating energy and is a system practiced for health maintenance, healing, and increasing vitality. 
The origins of Qigong can be found as far back as the Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD). The essential theory behind qigong is the unifying of body movements, rhythms of breathing, and Chinese medical principles to exercise and regulate one’s body, breath, and mind. It is aimed at strengthening and maintaining one's body, not only its muscles, but also the tendons, internal organs, and general flow of Qi through the main channels.
Forms of Qigong
Qigong practices can be classified as martial, medical, or spiritual. Some practices increase the Qi; others circulate it, use it to cleanse and heal the body, store it, or emit Qi to help heal others. Through academic research at various universities in China, the traditional meditation exercise has evolved into five new practice forms, each with a unique correlation to Chinese medical principles. They are:
Yi Jin Jing
Wu Qin Xi
Liu Zi Jue
Ba Duan Jin
Ba Duan Jin is considered the most fundamental form in Qigong. It combines constant rotation of joints with contracting and expanding motions of the body to improve agility, strengthen the lower body, and dredge the meridian system.  The widely recognized martial art styles of Tai Chi and Kung Fu are also forms of Qigong.
Effects of Qigong
The gentle, rhythmic movements of Qigong that integrate physical postures, breathing techniques, and focused intentions have been shown to be helpful for the treatment of a variety of conditions including knee osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, and hypertension. This practice has also widely been studied in the areas of mental health demonstrating positive outcomes on chronic fatigue, bereavement, anxiety, depression, stress, and sleep.[7-9] Most notably, the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine and the Medical Science Monitor journals published articles discussing the immunomodulation[10,11] effects of Qigong on immune response cells. This is a valuable area of research which has lead to studies into cancer and may lead to further studies on aging, the regulation of histamine reactions, and the treatment of other chronic and autoimmune diseases.
Qigong creates an awareness of and influences dimensions of our being that are not part of traditional exercise programs. Many health care professionals recommend Qigong as a valuable part of an integrative treatment plan for an overall promotion of health.[13,14] The slow gentle movements of most Qigong forms can be easily adapted, regardless of physical ability, age, belief system, or life circumstances.
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An BC, Wang Y, Jiang X, et al. Effects of Baduanjin () exercise on knee osteoarthritis: a one-year study. Chin J Integr Med.2013;19(2):143-148; PMID: 23001463 Link to research.
Sawynok J, Lynch M. Qigong and fibromyalgia: randomized controlled trials and beyond. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med.2014;2014:379715; PMID: 25477991 Link to research.
Xiong X, Wang P, Li X, et al. Qigong for hypertension: a systematic review. Medicine (Baltimore).2015;94(1):e352; PMID: 25569652 Link to research.
Cheng FK. Effects of Baduanjin on mental health: a comprehensive review. J Bodyw Mov Ther.2015;19(1):138-149; PMID: 25603754 Link to research.
Li J, Chan JS, Chow AY, et al. From Body to Mind and Spirit: Qigong Exercise for Bereaved Persons with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome-Like Illness. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med.2015;2015:631410; PMID: 26504478 Link to research.
Chan JS, Ho RT, Chung KF, et al. Qigong exercise alleviates fatigue, anxiety, and depressive symptoms, improves sleep quality, and shortens sleep latency in persons with chronic fatigue syndrome-like illness. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med.2014;2014:106048; PMID: 25610473 Link to research.
Chan AW, Yu DS, Choi KC, et al. Tai chi qigong as a means to improve night-time sleep quality among older adults with cognitive impairment: a pilot randomized controlled trial. Clin Interv Aging.2016;11:1277-1286; PMID: 27698557 Link to research.
Vera FM, Manzaneque JM, Rodríguez FM, et al. Acute Effects on the Counts of Innate and Adaptive Immune Response Cells After 1 Month of Taoist Qigong Practice. Int J Behav Med.2016;23(2):198-203; PMID: 26370102 Link to research.
Manzaneque JM, Vera FM, Maldonado EF, et al. Assessment of immunological parameters following a qigong training program. Med Sci Monit.2004;10(6):CR264-270; PMID: 15173671 Link to research.
Klein PJ, Schneider R, Rhoads CJ. Qigong in cancer care: a systematic review and construct analysis of effective Qigong therapy. Support Care Cancer.2016;24(7):3209-3222; PMID: 27044279 Link to research.
Zheng G, Fang Q, Chen B, et al. Qualitative Evaluation of Baduanjin (Traditional Chinese Qigong) on Health Promotion among an Elderly Community Population at Risk for Ischemic Stroke. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med.2015;2015:893215; PMID: 26483845 Link to research.
Hsieh CJ, Chang C, Tsai G, et al. Empirical study of the influence of a Laughing Qigong Program on long-term care residents. Geriatr Gerontol Int.2015;15(2):165-173; PMID: 24533887 Link to research.