Improve Obesity with Metabolic Syndrome with Yoga Practice


Improve Obesity with Metabolic Syndrome with Yoga Practice


By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.


“I think yoga can be a wonderful form of movement that bigger-bodied people can adapt for themselves.” For folks carrying more weight, low-impact exercises like yoga may be more comfortable than, say, running on the pavement. And most postures can be modified to fit your body. Plus, yoga isn’t that cycling class with the drill sergeant instructor. The mental component of yoga—the deep breathing, positive meditation and awareness—can boost confidence for people of all waistlines. “Yoga helps give you insight, and perhaps that insight can help you make better choices and eliminate negative self-talk,” – Laura McMullen


Obesity has become an epidemic in the industrialized world. In the U.S. the incidence of obesity, has more than doubled over the last 35 years to currently around 35% of the population, while two thirds of the population are considered overweight or obese (Body Mass Index; BMI > 25). Obesity has been found to shorten life expectancy by eight years and extreme obesity by 14 years. This occurs because obesity is associated with cardiovascular problems such as coronary heart disease and hypertension, stroke, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, and others.


Metabolic Syndrome is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. It generally results from overweight and abdominal obesity and includes high blood pressure, insulin resistance and elevation of plasma cholesterol and triglycerides. It is highly associated with obesity and type-2 diabetes. Metabolic Syndrome incidence has been rising rapidly and it currently affects 34% of U.S. adults. The simplest treatment is simply exercise and weight loss. Also, mindfulness techniques have been shown to be effective in treating Metabolic Syndrome.


Obviously, there is a need for effective treatments to prevent or treat obesity and metabolic syndrome. But, despite copious research and a myriad of dietary and exercise programs, there still is no safe and effective treatment. Mindfulness is known to be associated with lower risk for obesityalter eating behavior and improve health in obesity. Yoga practice has been shown to have a myriad of physical and psychological benefits. These include significant loss in weight and body mass index (BMI), resting metabolism, and body fat in obese women with Type 2 diabetes and improve health in the obese. In addition, it has the added benefit of being a gentle exercise. Hence it would seem reasonable to further investigate the benefits of yoga practice on the weight and body composition of the obese with metabolic syndrome.


In today’s Research News article “One Year of Yoga Training Alters Ghrelin Axis in Centrally Obese Adults With Metabolic Syndrome.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: ), Yu and colleagues studied the effects of 1-year of yoga practice on the metabolic hormones that are involved in body weight and metabolism. They selected from a previous study yoga trained and control participants who were obese and were diagnosed with metabolic syndrome. Hatha yoga practice occurred for 1 hour, 3 times per week for 1 year. They were measured before and after training for waist circumference, blood pressure, heart rate, physical performance, and blood levels of glucose, triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein, and cholesterol. In addition, the blood was assayed for peptides including insulin, markers of insulin resistance, ghrelin, obestatin, and growth hormone.


They found that the yoga group had a significantly greater decrease in waist circumference, 4%, compared to controls who had a 2% increase in waist circumference. The yoga group also had significantly greater improvements in resting heart rate and physical performance than the control group. Hence, yoga practice improves body size, physical ability and cardiovascular function in obese individuals with metabolic syndrome.


In addition, yoga training produced significantly greater decrease in the peptide obestatin and increases in growth hormone and ghrelin. High levels of obestatin and low levels of ghrelin and growth hormone have been found to be associated with obesity and metabolic syndrome. Hence, yoga practice produced a trend toward normalization of these hormones associated with obesity and metabolic syndrome.


These results suggest that yoga practice is beneficial for people with obesity and metabolic syndrome, improving their body size, and physical performance, and tending to normalize their metabolic hormonal state. This further suggests that practicing yoga may reduce risk factors and improve the long-term health of the obese with metabolic syndrome. Future research should compare the effectiveness of yoga practice to other exercise programs.


So, improve obesity with metabolic syndrome with yoga practice.


 “Yoga is a powerful activity that connects mind, body and a sense of self to achieve endless health benefits, including maintaining weight-loss. The philosophy of yoga fosters a healing practice that brings peace and acceptance to the self no matter where you are in your life. There are no prerequisites for yoga. You are not required to look a certain way, fold yourself into a tricky asana (pose), or even be at a certain level of flexibility.” – Laurel Dierking


CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies


This and other Contemplative Studies posts are available on Google+ and on Twitter @MindfulResearch


Study Summary


Yu, A. P., Ugwu, F. N., Tam, B. T., Lee, P. H., Lai, C. W., Wong, C., Lam, W. W., Sheridan, S., … Siu, P. M. (2018). One Year of Yoga Training Alters Ghrelin Axis in Centrally Obese Adults With Metabolic Syndrome. Frontiers in physiology, 9, 1321. doi:10.3389/fphys.2018.01321



Introduction: Metabolic syndrome (MetS) is a multiplex cardiometabolic manifestation associated with type 2 diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular diseases. Yoga training has been shown to alleviate MetS. Recently, circulatory ghrelin profile was demonstrated to be associated with MetS. This study examined the effects of 1 year of yoga training on β-cell function and insulin resistance, and the involvement of metabolic peptides, including unacylated ghrelin (UnAG), acylated ghrelin (AG), obestatin, growth hormone (GH), and insulin, in the beneficial effects of yoga training in centrally obese adults with MetS.

Methods: This was a follow up study, in which data of risk factors of MetS, physical performance tests [resting heart rate (HR), chair stand test (CS), chair sit and reach test (CSR), back scratch test (BS), and single leg stand tests (SLS)] and serum samples of 79 centrally obese MetS subjects aged 58 ± 8 years (39 subjects received 1-year yoga training and 40 subjects received no training) were retrieved for analyses. β-cell function and insulin resistance were examined by Homeostasis Model Assessment (HOMA). Circulating levels of UnAG, AG, obestatin, GH, and insulin were determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay using fasting serum samples. Generalized estimating equation analysis and Mann–Whitney U-test were used to detect statistically significant differences between groups.

Results: Waist circumference (WC) was significantly decreased after yoga intervention (control: +2%; yoga: -4%). Significant improvements in HR (control: +2%; yoga: -5%), CS (control: -1%; yoga: +24%), CSR left (control: worsen by 0.90 cm; yoga: improved by 4.21 cm), CSR right (control: worsen by 0.75 cm; yoga: improved by 4.28 cm), right side of BS (control: improved by 0.19 cm; yoga: improved by 4.31 cm), SLS left (control: -10%; yoga: +86%), and SLS right (control: -6%; yoga: +47%) were observed after 1-year yoga training. No significant difference was found between the two groups in insulin, HOMA indices, and disposition index. Yoga training significantly increased circulating GH (control: -3%; yoga: +22%), total circulating ghrelin (control: -26%; yoga: +13%), and UnAG (control: -27%; yoga: +14%), whereas decreased AG (control: -7%; yoga: -33%) and obestatin (control: +24%; yoga: -29%).

Conclusion: One-year of yoga training modulated total ghrelin, UnAG, AG, obestatin, and GH while exerting beneficial effects on physical functions and central obesity in adults with MetS. The beneficial effects of yoga may be associated with the alteration of ghrelin gene product and GH.


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