Researchers at Hampton University in Virginia report that a program combining yoga and breathing exercises helped teens shed unwanted pounds.
The study included 60 overweight high school girls and boys who were divided into two groups. One group received 40 minutes of yoga and pranayama (quiet, deep and forced breathing) four times a week for 12 weeks, while those in the control group did their normal activities.
"Pranyama and yoga are two potential exercise solutions that concentrate on the abdominal region. They have been associated with changes in blood flow to different regions of the brain and changes in metabolic activities of the brain," study author Anand B. Shetty, an associate professor in the department of physical therapy, said in a prepared statement.
After 12 weeks, the average body mass index (BMI) in the yoga/pranayama group went from 22.8 to 21.5 (a 5.7 percent decrease), while the average BMI in the control group increased from 22.3 to 22.4.
"The average body weight reduction for the pranayama group was six pounds, with no restrictions on either group in daily caloric intake," Shetty said.
"The decrease in the pranayama group could be attributed to two factors: the pranayama and yoga exercises themselves, and a possible decrease in daily caloric intake by the participants in the pranayama group because of decreased stomach size."
The findings were presented Friday, March 3, 2006, at the American Heart Association's annual conference on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention, in Phoenix.
Shetty said the results suggest that yoga and pranayama can help prevent obesity in teens, and should be introduced as part of physical activity programs in schools and other settings.
"I recommend 30 minutes of pranayama and yoga, three to four times a week. This also can easily be incorporated at home during leisure time with other family members," he said.
HealthDay News, March 4, 2006