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Regular yoga practice may help prevent middle-age spread

SEATTLE A new study led by researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center has found that regular yoga practice may help prevent middle-age spread in normal-weight people and may promote weight loss in those who are overweight.

The study the first of its kind to measure the effects of yoga on weight appears in the July/August issue of Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine.

Funded by the National Cancer Institute, the study involved 15,500 healthy, middle-aged men and women who were asked to complete a written survey recalling their physical activity (including yoga) and weight history between the ages 45 and 55. The study measured the impact of yoga with weight change, independent of other factors such as diet or other types of physical activity.

The researchers found that between the ages of 45 and 55, most people gained about a pound a year, which is a common pattern as people age and do not adjust their caloric intake to their declining energy needs. "However, men and women who were of normal weight at age 45 and regularly practiced yoga gained about 3 fewer pounds during that 10-year period than those who didn't practice yoga," said Alan R. Kristal, Dr.P.H., the study's lead author. For the study, regular yoga practice was defined as practicing at least 30 minutes once a week for four or more years.

But the researchers noted the greatest effect of regular yoga practice was among people who were overweight. "Men and women who were overweight and practiced yoga lost about 5 pounds, while those who did not practice yoga gained about 14 pounds in that 10-year period," said Kristal, a member of the Hutchinson Center's Public Health Sciences Division and a professor of epidemiology at the University of Washington School of Public Health and Community Medicine.

What accounts for yoga's apparent fat-fighting potential? Kristal, himself a longtime yoga student, suspects it has more to do with increased body awareness than the ph
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Contact: Kristen Lidke Woodward
kwoodwar@fhcrc.org
206-667-5095
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
19-Jul-2005


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