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Evidence Summary

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Yoga improves blood sugar control in people with type 2 diabetes

Thind H, Lantini R, Balletto BL, et al. The effects of yoga among adults with type 2 diabetes: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Prev Med. 2017;105:116-26.

Review question

In people who have type 2 diabetes, does yoga improve blood sugar?

Background

People with type 2 diabetes are at higher risk for long-term complications. Often, in addition to taking medication, people need to follow special diets and engage in physical activity to help control their blood sugar. Yoga is thought to help people with diabetes control their blood sugar.

How the review was done

The researchers did a systematic review, searching for studies that were published up to Dec 2015.

They found 23 studies, including 2,473 people (average age 53 years; 57% were men).

The key features of the studies were:

  • people were at least 18 years of age and had type 2 diabetes;
  • people did yoga for a minimum of 12 hours over up to 26 weeks (type of yoga varied);
  • yoga was compared with control groups that included usual care, exercise, and lifestyle education; and
  • outcomes were measured at least 8 weeks after starting yoga.

What the researchers found

Compared with not doing yoga, yoga improved:

  • control of blood sugar;
  • cholesterol levels;
  • blood pressure; and
  • body mass index.

Compared with not doing yoga, yoga did not improve weight loss.

The studies were considered to be low to medium quality, which means that new studies might show different results.

Conclusion

In people with type 2 diabetes, yoga reduces blood sugar.

Yoga vs control in people with type 2 diabetes

Outcomes

Number of studies

Effects of yoga

Blood sugar (hemoglobin A1c)

16

People who did yoga had a small improvement in hemoglobin A1c compared with people who did not do yoga.

Systolic blood pressure

4

People who did yoga had a small improvement in their systolic blood pressure compared with people who did not do yoga.

Diastolic blood pressure

6

People who did yoga had a medium improvement in their diastolic blood pressure compared with people who did not do yoga.

Body mass index

10

People who did yoga had a medium improvement in their body mass index compared with people who did not do yoga.

Weight

7

People who did yoga did not lose more weight than people who did not do yoga.

Low-density cholesterol

19

People who did yoga had a medium improvement in their low-density cholesterol compared with people who did not do yoga.

High-density cholesterol

17

People who did yoga had a small improvement in their high-density cholesterol compared with people who did not do yoga.

 




Glossary

Control group
A group that receives either no treatment or a standard treatment.
Diastolic
The lower number in a blood pressure reading. It is the pressure when the heart rests between beats.
Systematic review
A comprehensive evaluation of the available research evidence on a particular topic.
Systolic
The higher number in a blood pressure reading. It is the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats.

Related Web Resources

  • Type 2 diabetes: Screening for adults

    Health Link B.C.
    People at average risk for type 2 diabetes should be tested every 3 years after age 40. You may need to be tested more frequently if you are at higher risk. Find out your risk with the Canadian Diabetes Risk Assessment Questionnaire (link in this resource).
  • High blood sugar can increase cognitive decline

    Berkeley Wellness
    New research shows that if you have high blood sugar, you might be more at risk for cognitive decline as you age. Whether or not you have diabetes, it is important to keep your blood sugar under control.
  • Prediabetes: Which Treatment Should I Use to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes?

    OHRI
    This patient decision aid helps People with prediabetes considering treatment to help prevent type 2 diabetes decide on whether to make a major lifestyle change or take the medicine metformin by comparing the benefits, risks, and side effects of both options.
DISCLAIMER These summaries are provided for informational purposes only. They are not a substitute for advice from your own health care professional. The summaries may be reproduced for not-for-profit educational purposes only. Any other uses must be approved by the McMaster Optimal Aging Portal (info@mcmasteroptimalaging.org).

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