Objectives: The objective of the study was to study the short-term impact of a brief lifestyle intervention based on yoga on some of the biochemical indicators of risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes mellitus.
Design: The variables of interest were measured at the beginning (day 1) and end (day 10) of the intervention using a pre-post design.
Setting: The study is the result of operational research carried out in our Integral Health Clinic (IHC). The IHC is an outpatient facility which conducts 8-day lifestyle modification programs based on yoga for prevention and management of chronic disease. A new course begins every alternate week of the year.
Subjects: The study is based on data collected on 98 subjects (67 male, 31 female), ages 20-74 years, who attended one of our programs. The subjects were a heterogeneous group of patients with hypertension, coronary artery disease, diabetes mellitus, and a variety of other illnesses.
Intervention: The intervention consisted of asanas (postures), pranayama (breathing exercises), relaxation techniques, group support, individualized advice, lectures and films on the philosophy of yoga and the place of yoga in daily life, meditation, stress management, nutrition, and knowledge about the illness.
Outcome measures: The outcome measures were fasting plasma glucose and serum lipoprotein profile. These variables were determined in fasting blood samples, taken on the first and last day of the course.
Results: Fasting plasma glucose, serum total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, very- LDL cholesterol, the ratio of total cholesterol to high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, and total triglycerides were significantly lower, and HDL cholesterol significantly higher, on the last day of the course compared to the first day of the course. The changes were more marked in subjects with hyperglycemia or hypercholesterolemia.
Conclusions: The observations suggest that a short lifestyle modification and stress management education program leads to favorable metabolic effects within a period of 9 days.