Gentle yoga classes may help people with type 2 diabetes take off a small amount of weight and steady their blood sugar control, according to a study.
The study, of 123 middle-aged and older adults, found that those who added yoga classes to standard diabetes care shed a few pounds over 3 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, reported in the journal Diabetes Care, do not suggest that yoga should replace other forms of higher-intensity exercise for people with type 2 diabetes. To lose significant weight and control blood sugar, more vigorous exercise would be more effective, 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 body mass index (BMI) 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 and blood sugar control was marginal,” Hegde, the lead researcher on the study, stated in a press release.
“But it should be noted that yoga controlled the blood sugar levels which otherwise rose in the control group,” she added.
The study also found reduced signs of oxidative stress in the yoga group. Oxidative stress refers to a situation where levels of reactive oxygen species or free radicals rise beyond the body’s capacity to neutralize them. Long-term oxidative stress is believed to contribute to a host of chronic diseases.