Effects of a 6-month Tai Chi Qigong program on arterial hemodynamics and functional aerobic capacity in survivors of nasopharyngeal cancer

Shirley S.M. Fong, Sheung Mei Shamay Ng, W. S. Luk, Joanne W.Y. Chung, Joyce C.Y. Leung, Rich S.W. Masters

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Purpose: Survivors of nasopharyngeal cancer (NPC) often sustain cardiovascular complications after conventional cancer treatments. Tai Chi (TC) Qigong training may be a viable way to improve peripheral circulatory status and aerobic capacity in this population. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of a 6-month TC Qigong training program on blood flow velocities and resistance, palmar skin temperature, and functional aerobic capacity in survivors of NPC.Methods: Twenty-five and 27 survivors of NPC volunteered to join the intervention group (mean age, 55.4 ± 7.5 years) and control group (mean age, 58.7 ± 9.5 years), respectively. The intervention group underwent a TC Qigong training program—the modified 18 Forms TC Internal Qigong—for 6 months, while the control group received no training. Peripheral arterial blood flow velocities and resistance, palmar skin temperature, and functional aerobic capacity were measured by a Doppler ultrasound machine, an infrared thermometer, and six-minute walk test, respectively. All outcomes were assessed at baseline, mid-intervention (3-month), post-intervention (6-month), and follow-up (12-month) periods.Results: The TC Qigong group had higher diastolic blood flow velocity (p = 0.010), lower arterial blood flow resistance (p = 0.009), and higher palmar skin temperature (p = 0.004) than the control group after TC Qigong training. However, only the diastolic blood flow velocity was higher in the TC Qigong group than in the control group during the no-training follow-up period (p = 0.032). Additionally, an improvement in functional aerobic capacity was found in the intervention group after TC Qigong training (p < 0.008) but not in the control group over time (p > 0.008).Conclusions: TC Qigong training may improve peripheral circulatory status and functional aerobic capacity among people treated for NPC. However, this is only a pilot study and future definitive trials are needed to confirm the results.Implications for Cancer Survivors: TC Qigong may have enormous potential as a rehabilitation intervention for survivors of NPC to improve arterial hemodynamics and functional aerobic capacity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)618-626
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Cancer Survivorship
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • Cardiovascular system
  • Head and neck neoplasms
  • Mind-body therapies
  • Physical fitness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Oncology(nursing)

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