Effectiveness of Baduanjin (a Type of Qigong) on Physical, Cognitive, and Mental Health Outcomes: A Comprehensive Review

Jianghong Liu, PhD; Yi Yang; Yuting Zhu; Xinyu Hou, MS; Sandy Li; Sicheng Chen, MS; Jingduan Yang, MD



Objectives The aim of this study is to comprehensively review empirical evidence on the effectiveness of Baduanjin exercise, one type of mind-body focused qigong exercise, on individuals’ physical, cognitive, and mental well-being; outline potential mechanisms; and, suggest potential implication strategies for using Baduanjin in clinical practices and for future research.

Methods Recent randomized-controlled studies and systematic reviews/meta-analyses published in English were searched in PubMed, PsycINFO, and Scopus up to July 2022. The search terms include Baduanjin and sleep, chronic illness, cognition, mental health, etc. We only selected papers that specifically studied the health effects of Baduanjin, excluding those that involved other forms of Qigong or other traditional Chinese medical practices. Since many RCT studies have already been included in the review papers that we selected, only those not covered in the review papers were selected to avoid repetition.

Results 19 recent randomized-controlled studies and 8 systematic reviews were identified. In general, the effectiveness of Baduanjin exercise on individuals’ physical, cognitive, and mental health is evident. Baduanjin has proven to be effective in improving sleep quality, including reducing difficulties in getting asleep and reducing daytime sleepiness. It also reduces fatigue and improves the quality of life for patients with other physical health issues, such as cancer, musculoskeletal pain, and chronic illnesses. The effectiveness of Baduanjin exercise is also evident in cognition, improving executive functions, and slowing down age-related cognitive deterioration. Similarly, Baduanjin alleviates various types of mental illnesses, increases patients’ social competence, and enhances emotional regulation.

Conclusion There is initial evidence on the safety and efficacy of Baduanjin in improving individuals’ various aspects of health and well-being, suggesting that Baduanjin may serve as an effective adjunct to conventional treatments for a variety of clinical health benefits. More research is needed to confirm the efficacy and safety of Baduanjin in other non-Chinese ethnic populations. (Adv Mind Body Med. 2023;37(2):9-23.)


Jianghong Liu, PhD; Yi Yang; Yuting Zhu; Xinyu Hou, MS; Sandy Li; Sicheng Chen, MS; Jingduan Yang, MD; University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA.

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