A small study suggests that yoga classes may benefit patients with diabetes because it promotes weight loss and maintains a steady blood sugar control.
The health study, of 123 middle-aged and older adults, found that those who added yoga classes to standard diabetes care shed a handful of pounds over three months. Meanwhile, their average blood sugar levels held steady — in contrast to the non-yoga-practicing “control” group, whose blood sugar levels rose.
The findings do not suggest that yoga should replace other forms of exercise for people with type 2 diabetes — a disease commonly associated with obesity.
However, weight loss and blood sugar can be managed through more-vigorous exercises that do work better, according to Shreelaxmi V. Hegde of the Srinivas Institute of Medical Science and Research Center in Mangalore, India.
Among the 60 study participants who took yoga classes several times a week, the average BMI — a measure of weight in relation to height — declined from 25.9 to 25.4. A BMI between 25 and 30 is considered overweight.
“In our study the effect of yoga on BMI (body mass index) and blood sugar control was marginal,” Hegde, the lead researcher on the work, said in a statement. She added: “it should be noted that yoga controlled the blood sugar levels which otherwise rose in the control group.” Experts suggest that the exercise might lower the chances of diabetes complications, which include heart and kidney disease.