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Yoga for Type 2 Diabetes, Should You Try It

Yoga for type 2 diabetes

People with type 2 diabetes are urged to exercise regularly, and one form typically overlooked is yoga. The practice of yoga among individuals with type 2 diabetes can offer a variety of benefits.


Much has been written about how people with type 2 diabetes need to exercise regularly not only to help manage blood glucose levels but also to assist with weight management. Yet you don’t hear much about the use of yoga, a form of exercise that can help not only with these two goals of diabetes management but others as well.

In fact, a new study appearing in the International Journal of Yoga Therapy, as well as several other research articles, clearly show the benefits of incorporating yoga into your lifestyle if you have type 2 diabetes.

How yoga can help
Let’s begin with the newest review, which was conducted by experts from West Virginia University School of Public Health and the University of Virginia Health System. The authors evaluated the evidence gathered thus far on the benefits of yoga for management of type 2 diabetes and they reported that “yoga protocols that serve T2DM [type 2 diabetes mellitus] patients and a research framework for creating an evidence base to support the use of yoga for T2DM management are clearly needed.”

What are some of the benefits of yoga for type 2 diabetes? The findings of the following three studies give you an idea of what you might gain if you take up yoga.

Best Way to Fight Type 2 Diabetes, Not What You Think

A pilot study conducted at the University of Texas evaluated the impact of hatha yoga (a popular form that focuses on physical and mental strengthening) on 10 sedentary adults with type 2 diabetes who had never practiced yoga and who were insulin-free.

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The patients attended yoga classes three times a week for six weeks. Compared with before the study, the patients demonstrated significant changes in anxiety, perceived stress, and self-care behaviors.

In another study, 73 otherwise healthy adults (ages 60-70) who had type 2 diabetes and poor glycemic control were assigned to one of three groups. Group one participants had a hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) value of 8.6 to 9.7 percent; group two had a value of 9.8 to 10.7 percent; and group three had values of 10.8 to 12.7 percent.

All the participants practiced yoga with a trainer for three months at 90 minutes per day. At the end of the study, the participants showed a statistically significant reduction in glucose, HbA1c, lipid levels (cholesterols, triglycerides), cortisol (a stress hormone) levels, and other markers of diabetes. They also had an increase in catalase activity, which is important because this enzyme helps prevent damage to the cells and thus assists in protecting against diabetic complications.

Another recent study examined the effect of yoga on lipid levels in type 2 diabetes patients who had elevated values. One hundred people with the disease and who were using oral antidiabetes drugs were randomly assigned to a control group (no yoga) or to yoga practice one hour daily for three months.

At the end of three months, individuals in the yoga group showed a decline in total cholesterol, triglycerides, and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and an improvement in the good cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL).

Other studies have shown that yoga helps with weight loss, beats high blood pressure, relieves back pain, and much more. Now that you can add type 2 diabetes to the list, are you ready to give it a try?

Beena RK, Sreekumaran E. Yogic practice and diabetes mellitus in geriatric patients. International Journal of Yoga Therapy 2013 Jan; 6(1):47-54
de GR Hansen E, Innes KE. The benefits of yoga for adults with type 2 diabetes: a review of the evidence and call for a collaborative, integrated research initiative. International Journal of Yoga Therapy 2013; 23(2): 71-83
Shantakumari N et al. Effects of a yoga intervention on lipid profiles of diabetes patients with dyslipidemia. Indian Heart Journal 2013 Mar-Apr; 65(2): 127-31
Vizcaino M. Hatha yoga practice for type 2 diabetes mellitus patients: a pilot study. International Journal of Yoga Therapy 2013; 23(2): 59-65

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