Hatha yoga and arterial stiffness and reactivity
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This research assessed the role of Hatha yoga in the modulation of vascular health. In study one, Hatha yoga practitioners were compared to sedentary controls to whom they were matched for age and body mass index. Practitioners of Hatha yoga were no different from sedentary individuals in terms of arterial stiffness or vascular endothelial function. Yoga practitioners possessed lower HbA1c (P < 0.05) levels and lower pulse pressure (P < 0.05) than their sedentary counterparts. Practitioners of Hatha yoga had lower body fat percentages, but this observed trend did not reach statistical significance (P = 0.052). In study two, a 12-week Hatha yoga intervention resulted in reductions in HbA1c levels (P < 0.05) and total cholesterol (P < 0.05) in previously sedentary adults. No changes were observed in carotid artery compliance or brachial artery flow-mediated dilation as a result of the intervention. In study three, obese and lean, apparently healthy adults completed an 8-week Bikram yoga intervention. Reductions in total- and LDL-cholesterol were observed in the lean subjects (P < 0.05), with no changes in lipid profiles in the obese group. The homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) decreased in the lean subjects, but this trend did not attain statistical significance (P = 0.06). Although an observed trend was shown at 60 minutes during the oral glucose tolerance test (P = 0.07), glucose tolerance remained unchanged in the obese subjects. Brachial artery flow-mediated improved by approximately 2% in the obese subjects, but this observed change did reach statistical significance (P = 0.10). Flexibility increased in both groups as a result of the Bikram yoga intervention. Therefore Hatha yoga improved lipid profiles and glycemic control in sedentary adults, but no effects on vascular health were demonstrated.