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How Yoga Supports Healthy Weight Control

 

Several studies have suggested that practicing yoga contributes to weight loss and lessens the likelihood of weight gain. Dr. Alan Kristal of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle and colleagues surveyed more than 15,000 people in their fifties, 132 of whom had been regular yoga practitioners for at least four years. During the previous ten years, overweight people in the yoga group had lost an average of five pounds, compared to a 13.5 pound gain among overweight non-practitioners. In Dr. Dean Ornish’s studies of a comprehensive lifestyle program including yoga and relaxation, as well as walking and a low-fat vegetarian diet, participants lost almost 24 pounds in their first year, and five years later had maintained half that loss.

Just last year, Dr. Nina Moliver from the School of Behavioral and Health Sciences of Northcentral University in Prescott Valley, Arizona and colleagues published an impressive study on yoga and body weight. Moliver’s article, published in the International Journal of Yoga (full text available for free here) found that in long-term female yoga practitioners over the age of 45, the more yoga they practiced, the lower the body mass index (BMI). The results held up even when adjusted for such factors as age and lifestyle. Of note, it’s wasn’t the number of years of practice that predicted the lower body weight, as much as how many hours per week the women did yoga. Among the 49 women who had practiced more than 25 years, there were no cases of obesity. In addition, according to the authors, “Yoga practitioners were less likely than non-practitioners to use medication for metabolic syndrome, mood disorders, inflammation, and pain.”

(Excerpts from Dr. Timothy McCall’s newletter, 5.29.12)

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