Improve Type 2 Diabetes with Yoga

Improve Type 2 Diabetes with Yoga


By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.


Stress elevates blood sugar, which can lead to more diabetes complications. Yoga helps us center ourselves, and centering calms us and can help keep blood sugar levels balanced.” – Janet Zappe


Diabetes is a major health issue. It is estimated that 30 million people in the United States and nearly 600 million people worldwide have diabetes and the numbers are growing. Type II Diabetes results from a resistance of tissues, especially fat tissues, to the ability of insulin to promote the uptake of glucose from the blood. As a result, blood sugar levels rise producing hyperglycemia. Diabetes is heavily associated with other diseases such as cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, stroke, blindness, kidney disease, and circulatory problems leading to amputations. As a result, diabetes doubles the risk of death of any cause compared to individuals of the same age without diabetes.


Type 2 diabetes is a common and increasingly prevalent illness that is largely preventable. One of the reasons for the increasing incidence of Type 2 Diabetes is its association with overweight and obesity which is becoming epidemic in the industrialized world. A leading cause of this is a sedentary life style. Unlike Type I Diabetes, Type II does not require insulin injections. Instead, the treatment and prevention of Type 2 Diabetes focuses on diet, exercise, and weight control. Recently, mindfulness practices have been shown to be helpful in managing diabetes. A mindfulness practice that combines mindfulness with exercise is yoga and it has been shown to be helpful in the treatment of Type II Diabetes. Hence, there is a need to step back and review what has been learned regarding the effectiveness of yoga practice for Type 2 Diabetes.


In today’s Research News article “The effects of yoga among adults with type 2 diabetes: A systematic review and meta-analysis.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: ), Thind and colleagues review summarize and perform a meta-analysis of the published research literature of the effectiveness of yoga practice for Type 2 Diabetes. They identified 23 published studies that included a control group.


They found that the research studies reported that compared to control participants, the patients who practiced yoga had significantly lower blood glucose levels and significantly improved glycemic control as evidenced by blood levels of HbA1c and/or FBG. The yoga participants also had significantly improved blood fat levels including lower levels of total cholesterol, very-low density lipoprotein, low-density lipoprotein, and triglyceride levels and increased high-density lipoprotein levels. In addition, the after yoga training the patients had significantly lower blood pressure and body mass index, and lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.


These are remarkable findings, but most of these studies did not contain an active exercise control condition. So, the great benefits of yoga practice may be due to the physical exercise provided by yoga rather than anything specific to yoga. More research is needed to clarify this point. But, regardless, yoga practice has important benefits for adult patients with Type 2 Diabetes improving blood glycemic and lipid control, lowering blood pressure, body size, and stress hormone levels.


So, improve Type 2 Diabetes with Yoga.


“But yoga’s benefits for those with diabetes aren’t just physical: the process can help patients with the condition or its pre-indicators on more fundamental levels as well. By calming the awareness and integrating the mind with the body, yoga can relieve the daily stresses that often lie at the heart of diabetic symptoms.” – YogaU


CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies


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


Study Summary


Thind, H., Lantini, R., Balletto, B. L., Donahue, M. L., Salmoirago-Blotcher, E., Bock, B. C., & Scott-Sheldon, L. (2017). The effects of yoga among adults with type 2 diabetes: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Preventive medicine, 105, 116-126.



The purpose of this meta-analysis was to examine the effects of yoga for glycemic control among adults with type 2 diabetes (T2DM). Comprehensive electronic databases searches located 2559 unique studies with relevant key terms. Studies were included if they (1) evaluated a yoga intervention to promote T2DM management, (2) used a comparison group, (3) reported an objective measure of glycemic control at post-intervention, and (4) had follow-up length or post-test of at least 8 weeks from baseline. Independent raters coded participant, design and methodological characteristics and intervention content. Summary effect sizes and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were calculated. Twenty-three studies with 2473 participants (mean age = 53 years; 43% women) met eligibility criteria. Compared with controls, yoga participants were successful in improving their HbA1c (d + = 0.36, 95% CI = 0.16, 0.56; k = 16), FBG (d+ = 0.58, 95% CI = 0.40, 0.76; k = 20), and PPBG (d + = 0.40, 95% CI = 0.23, 0.56; k = 14). Yoga was also associated with significant improvements in lipid profile, blood pressure, body mass index, waist/hip ratio and cortisol levels. Overall, studies satisfied an average of 41% of the methodological quality (MQ) criteria; MQ score was not associated with any outcome (Ps > 0.05). Yoga improved glycemic outcomes and other risk factors for complications in adults with T2DM relative to a control condition. Additional studies with longer follow-ups are needed to determine the long-term efficacy of yoga for adults with T2DM.


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