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.