Can Qigong improve attention in adolescents? A prospective randomised controlled trial

J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2020 Jan;24(1):175-181. doi: 10.1016/j.jbmt.2019.05.005. Epub 2019 May 14.


Introduction: The ability to direct and maintain attention is a prerequisite for learning. Qigong exercises are already commonly practiced in many developed countries to increase attention and memory. The main goal of this study was to examine whether Qigong would improve the attention levels of adolescents (12-14 years of age) when practiced as part of their physical education course.

Method: Three groups of 22 individuals were considered: the verum group, which performed true Qigong; the control group, which performed sham, or placebo Qigong; and the waiting list group. In order to evaluate Qigong effects, attention tests (d2) were applied to all groups before the intervention period (t1) and after two and four weeks of practice (t2 and t3, respectively).

Results: At t1, there was no significant difference between the verum, control and waiting list groups in all measurable features. After 4 weeks of exercise, the verum group was significantly superior in all measurable features in comparison to the control group and the waiting list group. Values in the waiting list group were generally worse than in the control group (placebo Qigong), but there was no significant difference between the control and waiting list group, showing that the placebo offered an effect that was not significantly greater than the effect of no intervention at all.

Conclusion: 'White Ball' Qigong was able to improve attention in adolescents after 4 weeks of practice, leading us to conclude that it may be a useful tool when integrated into physical education classes.

Keywords: Attention improvement; Heidelberg model of TCM; Qigong; Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).