It is believed that the concept of moving qi in the body originated in India more than 6000 years ago, then gradually spread throughout Asia. Qigong predates and underlies yoga, the martial arts, and many types of healing.
Qigong developed to a sophisticated level in China during the past 4000 years. Ancient Taoists included Qigong as part of the evolving field of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Historic qigong forms developed along four main lines: increasing physical prowess, increasing longevity, providing access to ones own spirituality, and improving ones health. Many of todays qigong forms incorporate elements of all four lines of classical qigong .
"Health" in Traditional Chinese Medicine, as in many medical systems, includes Mind, Body, and Spirit. Therefore, health effects of Qigong include effects on physical body, mental functioning, emotions, and spirit. In truth, mind, body, and spirit can never be separated. People trying to function in a society that attempts to separate mind, body, and spirit often feel fragmented or lost, with a need to "connect with a larger universe" and to seek wholeness. Qigong is one of many routes to that wholeness.