Qigong for Diabetes

Three studies on Diabetes

 These three studies all report positive effects of either tai chi or qigong or both as a treatment for type 2 diabetes mellitus.  The first two studies were meta-analysis, with a combined total of 42 studies.  The third was a primary study with 103 subjects.  All reported beneficial results for the subjects compared to controls. Compared to aerobic exercise, the the first meta analysis indicated that tai chi had benefits over and above aerobic exercise for lowering A1C (average long term blood sugar levels) and raising hdl ( the “good” cholesterol).  The third individual study indicated that fasting blood sugar levels were improved more with qigong than tai chi, especially if the patient had had diabetes for a longer period of time.

 In all, the mounting research shows that both tai chi and qigong are effective treatments for type 2 diabetes. 

Review written by CJ Rhoads

Three studies on Diabetes

  1. Effect of tai chi on glycaemic control, lipid metabolism and body composition in adults with type 2 diabetes: a meta-analysis and systematic review.  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33594445/
  2. Effect of Tai Chi on Quality of Life, Body Mass Index, and Waist-Hip Ratio in Patients With Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7851054/
  3. Effects of fitness qigong and tai chi on middle-aged and elderly patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33332396/

Abstract: Effect of tai chi on glycaemic control, lipid metabolism and body composition in adults with type 2 diabetes: A meta-analysis and systematic review

Shuai Guo, Ying Xu, Jiawei Qin, Yannan Chen, Yue You, Jing Tao, Zhizhen Liu, Jia Huang.  

 J Rehabil Med. 2021 Mar 22;53(3):jrm00165. doi: 10.2340/16501977-2799.PMID: 33594445 DOI: 10.2340/16501977-2799

Objective: The aim of this systematic review was to evaluate the effects of tai chi on metabolic control and body composition indicators in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Design: Systematic review and meta-analysis of existing literature.

Methods: Electronic resource databases were searched to collect eligible studies. Two reviewers selected studies and independently evaluated methodological quality.

Results: Twenty-three studies were included in this meta-analysis. The pooled results showed that tai chi had significant effects in improving metabolic indices, such as fasting blood glucose (mean differ-ence (MD) = -1.04; 95% confidence interval (95% CI) -1.42 to 0.66; p < 0.01) and total cholesterol (MD = -0.50; 95% CI -0.86 to -0.13; p < 0.01) compared with conventional clinical therapy. Most indices did not support the use of tai chi over aerobic exercise, except for glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) (MD = -0.24; 95% CI -0.49 to 0.00; p < 0.01) and high-density lipoprotein (MD = 0.07; 95% CI 0.01 to 0.12; p < 0.01).

Conclusion: Tai chi had better effects on metabolic control and body composition indicators than clinical conventional therapy, but only on HbA1c and HDL were superior than that of aerobic exercise. The best time-window for tai chi intervention may differ with different metabolic indices.

Keywords: body composition; exercise; meta-analysis; metabolism control; tai chi; type 2 diabetes mellitus


Abstract: Effect of Tai Chi on Quality of Life, Body Mass Index, and Waist-Hip Ratio in Patients With Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Jiawei Qin,  Yannan Chen,  Shuai Guo, Yue You,  Ying Xu,  Jingsong Wu,  Zhizhen Liu,   Jia Huang,  Lidian Chen,  and Jing Tao

Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2020; 11: 543627.

Published online 2021 Jan 19. doi: 10.3389/fendo.2020.543627 PMCID: PMC7851054 PMID: 33542702

Background:Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is a worldwide public health concern with high morbidity and various progressive diabetes complications that result in serious economic expenditure and social burden. This systematic review aims to evaluate the effect of Tai Chi on improving quality of life (QoL), body mass index (BMI) and waist-hip ratio (WHR) in patients with T2DM.

Method:A systematic review and meta-analysis was performed following PRISMA recommendation. Four English databases and three Chinese databases were searched. The PEDro scale was used to assess the methodological quality of including studies. Study inclusion criteria: randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and quasi-experimental studies were included, patients with T2DM that adopted Tai Chi as intervention and QoL, BMI and/or WHR as outcome measurements.

Results:Eighteen trials were included. The aggregated results of seven trials showed that Tai Chi statistically significantly improved QoL measured by the SF-36 on every domains (physical function: MD = 7.73, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.76 to 13.71, p = 0.01; role-physical function: MD = 9.76, 95% CI = 6.05 to 13.47, p < 0.001; body pain: MD = 8.49, 95% CI = 1.18 to 15.8, p = 0.02; general health: MD = 9.80, 95% CI = 5.77 to 13.82, p < 0.001; vitality: MD = 6.70, 95% CI = 0.45 to 12.94, p = 0.04; social function: MD = 9.1, 95% CI = 4.75 to 13.45, p < 0.001; role-emotional function: MD = 7.88, 95% CI = 4.03 to 11.72, p < 0.001; mental health: MD = 5.62, 95% CI = 1.57 to 9.67, p = 0.006) and BMI (MD = −1.53, 95% CI = −2.71 to −0.36, p < 0.001) compared with control group (wait list; no intervention; usual care; sham exercise).

Conclusion: Tai Chi could improve QoL and decrease BMI for patients with T2DM, more studies are needed to be conducted in accordance with suggestions mentioned in this review.

Keywords: Tai Chi, quality of life, body mass index, meta-analysis, type 2 diabetes mellitus


Abstract: Effects of fitness qigong and tai chi on middle-aged and elderly patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus

 Xiaoyuan Li, Hongyu Si, Yamin Chen, Shouhao Li, Ningning Yin, Zhenlong Wang

PLoS One 2020 Dec 17;15(12):e0243989. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0243989. eCollection 2020. PMID: 33332396 PMCID: PMC7746158  DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0243989

Currently, qigong and tai chi exercises are the two most common preventive as well as therapeutic interventions for chronic metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). However, the quantitative evaluation of these interventions is limited. This study aimed to evaluate the therapeutic efficacy of qigong and tai chi intervention in middle-aged and older adults with T2DM. The study included 103 eligible participants, who were randomized to participate for 12 weeks, in one of the following intervention groups for the treatment of T2DM: fitness qigong, tai chi, and control group. Three biochemical measures, including fasting plasma glucose (FPG), glycated hemoglobin (HbA1C), and C-peptide (C-P) levels, assessed at baseline and 12 weeks, served as the primary outcome measures. During the training process, 16 of the 103 participants dropped out. After the 12-week intervention, there were significant influences on HbA1C (F2,83 = 4.88, p = 0.010) and C-P levels (F2,83 = 3.64, p = 0.031). Moreover, significant reduction in C-P levels was observed after 12-week tai chi practice (p = 0.004). Furthermore, there was a significant negative correlation between the duration of T2DM and the relative changes in FPG levels after qigong intervention, and the relative changes in HbA1C levels were positively correlated with waist-to-height ratio after tai chi practice. Our study suggests that targeted qigong exercise might have a better interventional effect on patients with a longer duration of T2DM, while tai chi might be risky for people with central obesity. 

Trial registration: This trial was registered in Chinese Clinical Trial Registry. The registration number is ChiCTR180020069. The public title is "Health-care qigong · study for the prescription of chronic diabetes intervention."

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