Background: Yoga is promoted or weight maintenance, but there is little evidence of its efficacy.
Objective: To examine whether yoga practice is associated with lower mean 10-year weight gain after age 45.
Participants: Participants included 15,550 adults, aged 53 to 57 years, recruited to the Vitamin and Lifestyle (VITAL) cohort study between 2000 and 2002.
Measurements: Physical activity (including yoga) during the past 10 years, diet, height, and weight at recruitment and at ages 30 and 45. All measures were based on self-reporting, and past weight was retrospectively ascertained.
Methods: Multiple regression analyses were used to examined covariate-adjusted associations between yoga practice and weight change from age 45 to recruitment, and polychotomous logistic regression was used to examine associations of yoga practice with the relative odds of weight maintenance (within 5%) and weight loss (> 5%) compared to weight gain.
Results: Yoga practice for four or more years was associated with a 3.1-lb lower weight gain among normal weight (BMI < 25) participants [9.5 lbs versus 12.6 Ibs] and an 18.5-lb lower weight gain among overweight participants [-5.0 lbs versus 13.5 Ibs] (both P for trend <.001). Among overweight individuals, 4+ years of yoga practice was associated with a relative odds of 1.85 (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.63-5.42) for weight maintenance (within 5%) and 3.88 (95% Cl 1.30-9.88) for weight loss (> 5%) compared to weight gain (P for trend .026 and .003, respectively).
Conclusions: Regular yoga practice was associated with attenuated weight gain, most strongly among individuals who were overweight. Although causal inference from this observational study is not possible, results are consistent with the hypothesis that regular yoga practice can benefit individuals who wish to maintain or lose weight.