Practicing yoga for 4 years or more makes you less likely to gain weight and more likely to maintain a normal weight than if you did not do yoga, according to the results of a database review from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle published in a 2005 issue of Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine.

Yoga-Practicing Participants

For this yoga study, researchers examined an aggregate of data from the Vitamin and Lifestyle study (VITAL). They examined self-reported surveys from 15,550 participants aged between 53 and 57 years. Of all the participants, 1,039 practiced yoga, and 43% of that group practiced yoga for less than 30 minutes per session (which means you don’t have to complete hours-long sessions to enjoy the benefits of yoga. Notably, the style of yoga practices was not indicated in this study.

Yoga Prevents Weight Gain

If you do yoga for 4 years or more, you are less likely to gain weight and more likely to maintain a normal weight than folks who not achieve those goals. The researchers found a strong correlation between lower weight gain and the degree of intensity of the participant’s yoga practice. At age 45 years, normal-weight and overweight yogis had approximately 3.1 and 18.5 pounds less weight gain then their non-yoga-practicing counterparts. The researchers examined the data to determine if the reduced weight gain was due to caloric reduction but found that these models accounted for only 0.4 and 1.2 pounds difference, respectively.

Yogi’s Eat Healthier Diets and Do More Physical Activity

The results of this research are as follows: Compared with the results of those who did not practice yoga, the yoga practitioners who maintained a yoga practice for 4 or more years 

  • consumed a significantly more healthful diet,
  • obtained 11% less of their calories from fat and ate 45% more fruits and vegetables,
  • were significantly more physically active (excluding yoga class), and
  • performed more than double the hours of high-intensity physical activity.

Getting started with yoga is easy! Get off your butt and head to your nearest yoga studio or community center or follow along with the bonanza of free yoga videos on YouTube.

Photo credit: Elena Ray

Reference for Experienced Yogis Gain Less Weight

Kristal, A.R.; et al. “Yoga practice is associated with attenuated weight gain in healthy, middle-aged men and women..” Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine 11.4 (2005): 28-33.