Yoga Classes Can Help Diabetics – Indian Study
Research has shown exercise can benefit diabetics in all sorts of ways from helping them lose weight to boosting their morale. Exercise has been shown to help diabetics control their blood sugar levels and may help fight insulin resistance.
Now a new study has shown gentle yoga, an exercise staple for older people or those needing relaxation rather than aerobics, is beneficial for Type II diabetics when added to a healthy regime including other more strenuous exercise.
Hatha yoga is the physical side of a spiritual discipline that originated in India possibly up to 3,000 years before Christ, and was designed to help those who practiced it achieve higher levels of consciousness. The west became interested in yoga in the 19th century, and by the 20th century yoga had many adherents among westerners. Today many clubs, hospitals, community centers, gyms and schools run yoga classes to teach the slow stretching and complicated postures or “asanas” to help with flexibility and general physical health. The exercises not only stimulate joints and muscles to become stronger more flexible, but induce a state of tranquility and wellbeing in the person doing them.
A study carried out in India and just reported in the Diabetes Care journal found that gentle yoga exercise helped a group of Type II diabetics lose weight slowly and keep control of their blood sugar levels. Meanwhile the blood sugar levels of a control group who did not take part in the yoga rose. The subjects included 123 middle aged or older people took part in the study over the three months, and 60 of these did the yoga classes several times a week. These people saw their body mass index (BMI) fall from an average of 25.9 to 25.4. A BMI of 25 or over is considered overweight, and a BMI of 30+ is classified as obesity.
The research was carried out at Mangalore’s Srinivas Institute of Medical Science and Research Center in India, a country that has been described as “the diabetes capital of the world” because of its rising levels of Type II diabetes.
Study leader Dr Shreelaxmi Hegde emphasized that the effect of the gentle yoga on the weight and blood sugar of the study participants was very small. She said that yoga should not replace stronger exercise which could prevent or reverse obesity – a known factor in the development of the disease. However, she said, “It should be noted that yoga controlled the blood sugar levels which otherwise rose in the control group.”
The study also found free-floating radicals – chemicals produced because of energy use by the body’s cells – were up to 20% lower in the bodies of the yoga group, compared to the control group. These chemicals can damage tissues and organs if the body is not able to neutralize them and are believed to contribute to many health problems.
Dr Hegde said it was possible that the decline in the chemicals over the long term might lower a diabetic’s risk of getting other complications associated with the disease, such as heart disease, kidney failure, eye problems, or nerve damage.
Hatha yoga varies considerably from quite strenuous exercise to slow, gentle movements suitable for the elderly, those with limited mobility, or those with health conditions.
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