Diabetes and Yoga Exercises
A small study has shown great promise in diabetics doing gentle yoga exercises for the management of their condition. This exercise helps diabetics lose weight and steady blood sugar control for Type 2 diabetics.
The study participants were 123 middle aged adults and with three months of yoga sessions helped in losing a small amount of weight. During the said period, the blood sugar levels of these individuals remained steady throughout the three months. Comparatively, non-yoga participating diabetics registered blood sugar increases during the same period.
The conclusions were reported in journal Diabetes Care. The study though does not propose that yoga replace other forms of exercise for people suffering from Type 2 diabetes.
According to Shreelaxmi V. Hegde of the Srinivas Institute of Medical Science and Research Center in Mangalore, India, losing weight through more vigorous exercises would be better in managing type 2 diabetes. This kind of diabetes is often related to obesity and lifestyle habits.
Sixty of the participants took yoga classes several times a week and found that their Body Mass Index lowered from 25.9 to 25.4. BMI is Body Mass Index, the relation of weight to height. A person with a BMI between 25 and 30 is considered overweight and any higher would be considered obese.
Hegde added, “In our study, the effect of yoga on BMI (Body Mass Index) and blood sugar control was marginal.” She added, “But, it should be noted that yoga controlled the blood sugar levels which otherwise rose in the control group.”
It was also noted that the study found signs of oxidative stress declined in the yoga participating group. Oxidative stress refers to a situation where levels of reactive oxygen species or “free radicals”. Free radicals are byproducts of energy use in the cell that in turn damages the cell. It is believed that long-term oxidative stress contributes to the development of chronic diseases in the individual.
The team further found that participants’ blood oxidative stress levels of the yoga participant group lowered by 20 percent. While the significance is not yet clear, the long-term decline may eventually help the individual reduce the risk of developing diabetes complications. These complications may be cardiovascular diseases, renal disease, neural damage and blood vessel damage. To find out the long-term effects, further studies need to be done.
According to the researchers, yoga helps curb oxidative stress through the stimulation of the parasympathetic nervous system, the part of the nervous system that serves as a brake against the sympathetic nervous system. The yoga practiced in the study is a gentle form that used movements suited for individuals with health problems such as heart disease.
Thus, before undertaking yoga as part of the management regimen for diabetes, the kind of yoga needs to be reviewed. There are yoga classes that are actually vigorous workouts and the best ones for elderly diabetics would be those specifically designed for older individuals and those suffering from chronic medical conditions.
Bobby Castro is the online editor at the Diabetes Forum, where he has published a number of articles about diabetes treatment and many other topics.