Study Finds Yoga May Help People Keep Weight Off

Posted on August 16, 2005

Yoga has long been considered beneficial for stress reduction and flexibility but a new study finds that yoga may also help keep people from gaining weight. Health Central reports that a new study of 15,500 people between the ages of 53 and 57 found that people who practiced yoga remained slimmer than those who did not.

Just 132 of the people surveyed said they practiced yoga regularly for at least four years. However, overweight yoga practitioners lost about 5 pounds on average during the 10-year period, while those who did not practice yoga gained an average of 13.5 pounds. People who were normal-weight and regularly practiced yoga gained three fewer pounds during this period of life than those who didn't do yoga (9.5 pounds compared to 12.6 pounds).
So how does yoga help people lose weight? One theory is that partaking in yoga encourages people to live a healthier lifestyle. But another theory suggests that the relaxation benefits of yoga help to reduce stress, which is a possible cause of weight gain.
Dr. Janine Blackman, the medical director of the University of Maryland Center for Integrative Medicine, has another theory: the "mindful" nature of yoga creates a healthier response to stress, which in turn prevents stress-driven eating and lowers stress hormones.

"Middle age is a full time in life," she said. "A better response to this stress can lower cortisol and other stress hormones, which helps physiologically. If cortisol is elevated, you're more likely to have Insulin resistance, which is central to obesity."

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