People who practice yoga — who are also known, at least in the Western world, as “yogis” — always rave about how yoga could benefit the body and mind. But what does the science say? A new study investigates, focusing on how yoga affects people with metabolic syndrome.
For instance, some studies have suggested that yoga boosts brain health and cognition, as well as improves thyroid problems and relieves the symptoms of depression.
It has also been suggested that practicing yoga can help men to enlarge their prostate or even overcome erectile dysfunction, as well as help those with diabetes to manage their symptoms.
So, it seems that yoga is good for almost everything. That being said, most of the above-mentioned studies are observational — meaning they cannot draw any conclusions about causality — and few studies have looked at the mechanisms that may have underlined the findings.
But a new study — which has been published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports and led by Dr. Parco M. Siu, from the University of Hong Kong in China — investigated the effect of yoga on cardiometabolic health.
The results not only found that it benefits people with metabolic syndrome, but they also revealed the mechanisms behind such benefits.
Yoga decreases inflammatory response
Metabolic syndrome is a condition frequently associated with type 2 diabetes and heart disease. In the United States, it is estimated that approximately 34 percent of the adult population live with the condition.
Dr. Siu and his colleagues previously conducted research that found lower blood pressure and a smaller waist circumference among those who undertook yoga for 1 year. Therefore, in the new study, the researchers wanted to examine the effect of 1 year of yoga in people with metabolic syndrome.
To this end, they randomly assigned 97 participants with metabolic syndrome and high-normal blood pressure to either a control group or a yoga group.
“Participants in the control group were not given any intervention but were contacted monthly to monitor their health status,” write the researchers, whereas, “Participants in the yoga group underwent a yoga training program with three 1-hour yoga sessions weekly for 1 year.”
The scientists also monitored the patients’ sera for so-called adipokines — or signaling proteins that are released by the fat tissue, telling the immune system to release either an inflammatory or anti-inflammatory response.
The study authors summarize their findings, saying, “[The] results demonstrated that 1-year yoga training decreased proinflammatory adipokines and increased anti-inflammatory adipokine in adults with [metabolic syndrome] and high-normal blood pressure.”
“These findings support the beneficial role of yoga in managing [metabolic syndrome] by favorably modulating adipokines,” add the researchers.
The results of the study suggest that yoga could be a worthwhile lifestyle intervention that could decrease inflammation and help people with metabolic syndrome to manage their symptoms.
Dr. Siu also comments on the study’s results, saying, “These findings help to reveal the response of adipokines to long-term yoga exercise, which underpins the importance of regular exercise to human health.”