Meditative movement as a category of exercise: implications for research

J Phys Act Health. 2009 Mar;6(2):230-8. doi: 10.1123/jpah.6.2.230.


Introduction: Meditative Movement (MM) is proposed as a new category of exercise defined by (a) some form of movement or body positioning, (b) a focus on breathing, and (c) a cleared or calm state of mind with a goal of (d) deep states of relaxation.

Review: Two forms of exercise meeting this definition, Qigong and Tai Chi, are reviewed to examine health benefits found in the research literature, recap elements that should be assessed in MM research, and suggest where aspects of MM intersect with, and are distinguished from, conventional forms of exercise.

Results: Relevant dimensions of the key elements of MM, such as frequency, duration, type of movement, degree of exertion, description of breathing, and achievement of relaxed state are recommended to be clearly described and measured to consistently define the category across studies and clarify how MM may affect health outcomes in similar, and perhaps different, ways than conventional exercise.

Conclusions: If these suggested standards are used, we will gain a better understanding of which elements are necessary for achieving targeted outcomes. Over time, as MM is studied as a category of exercise, research may progress more efficiently to define the domains of physiological and psychological benefit.

MeSH terms

  • Biomedical Research*
  • Blood Pressure / physiology
  • Breathing Exercises*
  • Humans
  • Immune System / physiology
  • Meditation*
  • Mental Health
  • Movement*
  • Postural Balance / physiology
  • Relaxation / physiology
  • Stress, Psychological / prevention & control*
  • Tai Ji*