Recently, some promising new studies suggested that there could be ways to not just control diabetes, but reverse the disease altogether. Both were based on consuming a plant-based, low-calorie diet (just 600 calories a day according to one study). But if those options seemed like too much of a reach for you (who’s excited to survive on diet drinks and veggies every day?), a new study is touting the potential health benefits of yoga for people with type 2 diabetes. Just beware of what they say.
According to a report published in the journal Diabetes Care, researchers are saying that gentle yoga classes may help patients lose weight and control blood sugar. Out of 123 middle-aged and older adults, those who added yoga classes to their standard diabetes care lowered their BMI while maintaining steady blood sugar levels. And while “maintaining” blood sugar levels may not seem like a big win, it’s worth noting that the non-yoga-practicing “control” group had blood sugar levels that rose.
By now we all know the tremendous benefits of yoga–from aiding with insomnia to depression to sexual health, but as far as helping people lose weight, we think that’s a bit of a stretch. Sure, you can burn calories (although certain yoga purists balk at anyone who considers yoga exercise), but there are much more effective and efficient ways for losing weight (like aerobic exercise that we just talked about last week). And yes, we know that certain types of power yoga are definitely a more demanding practice, but keep in mind that this study talks about “gentle” yoga.
Luckily, lead researcher, Shreelaxmi Hegde of the Srinivas Institute of Medical Science and Research Center in India agrees that more vigorous forms of exercise would be a better option for diabetes patients looking to lose weight. She told Reuters Health:
In our study the effect of yoga on BMI (body mass index) and blood sugar control was marginal. But, it should be noted that yoga controlled the blood sugar levels which otherwise rose in the control group.
Weight loss aside, what’s most interesting about this study though is the effects that yoga had on stress levels. The patients who practiced yoga experienced a 20% decline in free radicals–the damaging byproducts of stress. Hedge noted that this might lower the chances of diabetes complications, including heart and kidney disease, nerve damage and damage to the eyes. Now that’s something worth rolling out your mat for.
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