Background: Metabolic syndrome increases the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Yoga improves some metabolic parameters, but it has not been studied in persons with metabolic syndrome. We conducted a randomized controlled pilot trial to determine whether a restorative yoga intervention was feasible and acceptable in underactive, overweight adults with metabolic syndrome.
Methods: Twenty six underactive, overweight adult men and women with metabolic syndrome were randomized to attend 15 yoga sessions of 90 minutes each over 10 weeks or to a wait-list control group. Feasibility was measured by recruitment rates, subject retention, and adherence. Acceptability was assessed by interview and questionnaires. Changes in metabolic outcomes and questionnaire measures from baseline to week 10 were calculated.
Results: A total of 280 people were screened by phone, and 93 with high likelihood of metabolic syndrome were invited to a screening visit. Of the 68 who attended screening visits, 26 (38%) were randomized, and 24 (92%) completed the trial. Attendance at yoga classes and adherence to home practice exceeded our goals. In the yoga group, all participants gave the study the highest possible satisfaction rating, and the majority (87%) felt that the yoga poses were easy to perform. There was trend to reduced blood pressure (p = 0.07), a significant increase in energy level (p < 0.009), and trends to improvement in well-being (p < 0.12) and stress (p < 0.22) in the yoga versus control group.
Conclusions: Restorative yoga was a feasible and acceptable intervention in overweight adults with metabolic syndrome. The efficacy of yoga for improving metabolic parameters in this population should be explored in a larger randomized controlled trial.