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Yoga for Diabetics

By on September 6, 2011

Yoga classes may help people with type 2 diabetes lose weight and stabilize blood sugar.

The small study of 123 middle-aged and older adults found that those who added yoga classes to standard diabetes care shed a few pounds over three months and their average blood sugar levels held steady. Results are reported in the journal Diabetes Care and advise yoga should not replace other forms of exercise for people with type 2 diabetes — a disease commonly associated with obesity.

Before you run out to score that yoga outfit, understand that to really lose weight and rein in blood sugar, more-vigorous exercise would work better, according to Shreelaxmi V. Hegde of the Srinivas Institute of Medical Science and Research Center in Mangalore, India.

Additionally, the study found, signs of so-called oxidative stress declined in the yoga group. Oxidative stress refers to a situation where levels of reactive oxygen species or “free radicals” — damaging byproducts of energy use in cells — rise beyond the body’s capacity to neutralize them. Long-term oxidative stress is believed to contribute to a host of chronic diseases.

Further, long-term studies are needed to see whether that is the case, the researchers say. Plus there are a few caveats. The yoga used in this study was a gentle form, Hegde said, and parts of the practice were
adapted for people who had additional health problems; certain poses were avoided in people who had heart disease, for example.

Older adults with diabetes can look for yoga classes designed specifically for older people and those with chronic medical conditions. In the U.S., hospitals and local community centers are increasingly offering such classes.


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