Research on Chi Exercise Machines


Clinical Trials

A study on the efficacy of The Sun Ancon® Chi Machine® was undertaken by the School of Medicine* at Flinders University, South Australia, with particular focus on people with chronic lymphoedema and venous oedema. The results were broadly positive and were published in 2004. An abstract of the Study can be viewed at PubMed (US National Library of Health): and is reproduced here:

A significant proportion of those who survive lower torso cancer treatments will go on to develop clinically discernible bilateral or unilateral leg lymphedema. Although beneficial treatments exist for this condition, many are expensive and involve visits to outpatient clinics or allied health professionals--making the patient dependent upon others for treatment and maintenance. This clinical trial tested the efficacy of the Sun Ancon Chi Machine Aerobic Exerciser, a home based therapy that delivered both elevation and passive exercise to the legs. This machine was used in the participant's home according to a set regime with measurements being taken immediately before trial commencement, at weekly intervals and then 1 month after treatment cessation. After a three week treatment period there were statistically significant reductions in total leg volume and fluids, whole body extracellular fluid, weight and subjective leg symptoms. Lymphscintigraphy in a sub-group of patients suggested an increase in lymphatic transport in some individuals. Although some of the fluid and symptoms had returned at the 1 month follow up, none of the parameters had returned to pre-treatment levels. This finding indicates that this equipment may have ongoing beneficial effects. This clinical trial demonstrates that the Sun Ancon Chi Machine Aerobic Exerciser is an effective adjunct therapy that can be used in the patient's own home.

*Authors: Moseley, A, Piller, NB, Esterman A and Carati, C (2004). Title: The Sun Ancon Aerobic Exerciser. A new patient focused home based therapy for people with chronic secondary lymphoedema. Lymphology, 37 (2) 32-44

We have not been able to find any other published clinical trials, and no published studies have been found in Japan, though the Japanese Ministry of Health & Welfare gave the original chi machine a registration as a Remedial Medical Device – see patents for more information.

Other Published Studies from Japan

It appears that the Japanese inventors of the Sun Ancon® Chi Machine® relied upon the experience and vision of Dr Shizuo Inoue - who seems to have been the source of the idea to develop a machine capable of replicating the “goldfish exercise” motion that he had been working with for many years previously.

Hsin Ten (Health & Wealth) Inc. of Taiwan have published a book in English titled “Aerobic Respiration Exercise and Health”. This is a translation of Dr Inoue’s writings on the subject of “Goldfish Exercise”. According to Dr Inoue, many ailments can be relieved by this type of aerobic exercise. He gives a long list of conditions that can be treated in this way, and gives an explanation in each case based on his own logic.

In fact he does not say much in the book about chi machines, which he considered to be just one of at least eight ways to achieve the effects of Goldfish Exercise. Dr Inoue had of course been working with goldfish exercise for many years prior to the invention of the first Chi Machine in the late 1980’s – see Goldfish Exercise and Patents for more information.

Other Published Studies

In 2005 and 2006 Trials with Healthcare Practitioners were carried out in UK on the Surge of Chi Exerciser, an advanced chi exercise machine with variable speeds. The Surge of Chi Mk 2 (the version used in the Trials) was rebranded in 2012 as the Flexxicore Passive Exerciser. The results of these trials were published in two articles in Positive Health magazine – see the full articles Benefits of the FlexxiCore Passive Exerciser: Practitioner Trials and Clinical Relief with Use of FlexxiCore Exerciser (These are 4 and 5-page articles.) There are also Summary Reports on the trials available to download here: (Summary: Phase 1 Trials); & (Summary: Phase 2 Trials).

More recently a new article on these trials by Maggie Tisserand, one of the Directors of Beyond Stress Foundation, has been published at Supervised Use of the FlexxiCore Passive Exerciser in a Clinic Context


Early Basic Research

For more on the early research that went into the original invention, see Early Research