Assessment of Qigong Effects on Anxiety of High-school Students: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Jorge Magalhães Rodrigues, BS; Luís Carlos Matos, MS; Nuno Francisco, PhD; António Dias, João Azevedo, Jorge Machado, PhD



Context • Students are vulnerable to developing anxiety, a psychiatric disorder closely related to emotional stress, when systematically stressed by classes, homework, and evaluations. Qigong integrates physical, respiratory, and mental exercises, inducing vegetative biofeedback with significant effects on physiological regulation.

Objective • The current study aimed to assess the potential effects of specific Qigong exercises on students’ anxiety levels and evaluate the feasibility of practical integration in a daily school context.

Design • The research team developed a randomized controlled trial.

Setting • This study was performed in Cedros and Horizonte private schools located in Vila Nova de Gaia in Portugal.

Participants • Participants were 104 high-school students at the schools.

Intervention • Participants were randomly divided into three groups: (1) an intervention group, the Qigong (QG) group (n = 34), which performed Qigong exercises; (2) a control group, the TV documentary (TVD) group (n = 34), which watched a TV documentary; and (3) a second control group, the typical school duties (TSD) group (n = 36), which performed regular school duties.

Outcome Measures • Anxiety levels were assessed through a psychological test, the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) and salivary cortisol tests.

Results • Psychological and biochemical variables assessed at baseline and postintervention showed a greater decrease in anxiety levels in the QG group than in the other two groups.

Conclusions • Qigong seems to be an efficient tool to reduce anxiety and control the stress of high-school students. (Adv Mind Body Med. 2020;35(3):10-19.)

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