Yoga Helps Prevent Middle-Age Spread

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

The study involved 15,500 healthy, middle-aged men and women (between the ages of 45 and 55) and measured the impact of yoga on weight, independent of other factors such as diet or other types of physical activity.

Researchers found that most people gained about a pound a year between the ages of 45 and 55. However, men and women who were of normal weight at age 45 and practiced yoga regularly (at least 30 minutes once a week for four or more years) gained about three pounds less during that 10-year period.

The greatest effect of regular yoga practice was among the overweight. These participants lost about five pounds during the 10-year study, while those that did not do yoga gained an average of 14 pounds. Alan R. Kristal, Dr. P.H., the study’s lead author, suspects that yoga increases body awareness and sensitivity to the feeling fullness, which makes it easier to not overeat. Researchers also speculate that yoga cultivates a form of inner strength, giving participants the ability to resist tempting foods.

Action Sparked: It’s easier to prevent weight gain than it is to lose pounds later. While yoga helped prevent weight gain in this study, other research shows that yoga can improve stress, blood pressure, sleeping patterns, body image, self-esteem, and more. Look for yoga classes at your local gym or recreation center or buy a DVD and practice in the comfort of your own home. But most importantly, exercise, stay active, and eat healthy throughout all phases of your life.