Yoga May Help Teens Lose Extra Weight
Teens Doing Yoga Lost 6 Pounds in 3 Months, Study Shows
WebMD News Archive
March 3, 2006 -- Yoga could be a way for overweight teens to get in shape
and lose weight, new research shows.
According to the CDC, the percentage of young people who are overweight has
more than tripled since 1980, with 16% of children aged 6-19 considered to be
In a recent study, high school students practicing yoga and breathing
exercises on a regular basis shed an average of 6 pounds and trimmed their BMI
(body mass index) by nearly 6%.
The finding comes from Anand Shetty, EdD, of Hampton University in Yorktown,
"I recommend 30 minutes of pranayama [breathing exercises] and yoga,
three to four times a week," Shetty says in an American Heart Association
news release. "This also can easily be incorporated at home during leisure
time with other family members."
Shetty's study is being presented in Phoenix, at the American Heart
Association's 46th annual conference on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and
Striking a Yoga Pose
Shetty studied 60 high school students for three months.
He randomly assigned half of the students to do yoga and breathing exercises
for 40 minutes, four days per week, during the study. The breathing exercises
used "quiet, deep, forced breathing," Shetty says. Yoga includes
postures that help build overall well-being.
For comparison, the other students did their normal activities, without the
At the study's start, average BMI was 22.8 in the yoga group and 22.3 in the
comparison group. Those BMIs aren't considered overweight for adults. But teens
are different, because they're still growing taller and BMI relates height to
"Therefore, by adult BMI standards, we underestimate the normal BMI for
teens," Shetty says. "For this study, only students with a BMI greater
than 22 were selected."
Yoga Group Slimmed Down
When the study ended, the yoga group had lost 6 pounds and 1.3 points on
their BMI, on average.
Dieting wasn't required. The yoga group's weight loss may stem from the
exercises, or perhaps they ate less, Shetty says.
The yoga and breathing exercises used the teens' abdominal muscles. Using
those muscles temporarily contracts the abdomen, including the stomach, Shetty
He didn't study stomach size but suggests future research on the
relationship between stomach size and hunger, as well as yoga's effects on
brain function, feelings of fullness, and hormones related to metabolism.