Karen Collins, MS, RD, CDN
American Institute for Cancer Research
Q: Are there really health benefits of doing yoga??
A: Yes, but health benefits vary because people practice yoga in different ways. For example, people differ in how they emphasize and practice the physical postures (asanas), breathing exercises (pranayama), meditation and relaxation techniques, and more. It’s difficult to conduct a controlled study of the effects of long-term yoga practice, but short-term studies have identified several health benefits. In one study, within a couple weeks of daily or near-daily yoga, high blood pressure improved. A 2007 review of the evidence found that within several weeks to several months, people with diabetes showed improved blood sugar control and blood cholesterol levels. These effects may relate to increased physical activity, reduced anxiety and changes in stress hormones from meditation practice or their interactive effects. Although yoga has been around for centuries, research is only beginning to understand all its effects. If you are looking for health benefits from yoga, it would be wise to learn from an instructor who includes both physical poses and meditative components. Find a style that is safe for you and fits your goals and physical abilities so you can continue doing yoga long-term.
The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is the cancer charity that fosters research on the relationship of nutrition, physical activity and weight management to cancer risk, interprets the scientific literature and educates the public about the results. It has contributed more than $95 million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals and research centers across the country. AICR has published two landmark reports that interpret the accumulated research in the field, and is committed to a process of continuous review. AICR also provides a wide range of educational programs to help millions of Americans learn to make dietary changes for lower cancer risk. Its award-winning New American Plate program is presented in brochures, seminars and on its website, www.aicr.org. AICR is part of the global network of charities that are dedicated to the prevention of cancer. The WCRF global network is led and unified by WCRF International, a membership association which operates as the umbrella organization for the network.The other charities in the WCRF network are World Cancer Research Fund in the UK (www.wcrf-uk.org); Wereld Kanker Onderzoek Fonds in the Netherlands (www.wcrf-nl.org); World Cancer Research Fund Hong Kong (www.wcrf-hk.org).