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ORIGINAL ARTICLE Table of Contents   
Year : 2011  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 77-86
Increased Hatha yoga experience predicts lower body mass index and reduced medication use in women over 45 years


1 School of Behavioral and Health Sciences, Northcentral University, Prescott Valley, Arizona, USA
2 Office of Academic Research, Northcentral University, Prescott Valley, Arizona, USA
3 Office of the Provost, Northcentral University, Prescott Valley, Arizona, USA
4 Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Correspondence Address:
N Moliver
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0973-6131.85490

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Background: Yoga has been shown to have many short-term health benefits, but little is known about the extent to which these benefits accrue over a long time frame or with frequent practice. Aims: The purpose of this study was to examine the extent to which body mass index (BMI) and medication use in a sample of female yoga practitioners over 45 years varied according to the length and frequency of yoga practice. Materials and Methods: We administered online surveys to 211 female yoga practitioners aged 45 to 80 years. We used regression analyses to evaluate the relationship of extent of yoga experience to both BMI and medication use after accounting for age and lifestyle factors. We also conducted comparisons with 182 matched controls. Results: Participants had practiced yoga for as long as 50 years and for up to 28 hours per week. There were significant inverse relationships between yoga experience and both BMI and medication load. These significant relationships remained after accounting for age and lifestyle factors. When we computed yoga experience in terms of total calendar years, without accounting for hours of practice, significant relationships did not remain. However, there was no obesity in the 49 participants with more than 25 years of yoga practice. Yoga practitioners were less likely than non-practitioners to use medication for metabolic syndrome, mood disorders, inflammation, and pain. Conclusions: A long-term yoga practice was associated with little or no obesity in a non-probability sample of women over 45 years. Relationships showed a dose-response effect, with increased yoga experience predicting lower BMI and reduced medication use.


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