yoga and peer-support

The southern Indian state of Kerala has some of the highest rates of diabetes in India.  A recent randomized controlled study looked at the implications of yoga and peer-support on the biological parameters of 120 peri-menopausal women with Type II diabetes.


Developing countries such as India may benefit from exploring low-cost/high-benefit complimentary options for promoting patient self-management of diabetes with respect to drug management, diet, and exercise.  A randomized controlled study by Sreedevi et. al. in BioMed Central Complementary and Alternative Medicine, divided 124peri-menopausal with type II diabetes into three groups of 41-42 participants: a yoga group, a peer-support group, and a control group.  All participants received standard care with respect to pharmacologic treatment, diet education and daily exercise recommendations of at least 10 minutes per day.  Biological parameters such as anthropometric measurements, blood pressure, and blood glucose levels were monitored over a period of three months.

The yoga group was provided with two, 60-minute classes per week led by a certified instructor, and were encouraged to maintain a journal while following a home practice the other five days of the week.  The yoga practice consisted of a combination of quickly paced, breath-linked sun salutations, prone and supine mat postures, and deep relaxation.

The peer-support group participants were attended to by a trained peer-mentor during a weekly meeting to discuss medication compliance, diet, and exercise.  The peer-mentor meetings lasted approximately 45-60 minutes, and were complimented by a follow-up phone call later in the week.

It was found that while not clinically significant, the yoga and peer-support groups demonstrated a trend towards decreased fasting plasma glucose.  A slight decrease in glycosylated hemoglobin was noted in the yoga group only.  Of clinical significance was the Yoga groups’ average decrease in blood pressure by 3mm, as well as a slight  decrease in hip circumference.  Subjectively, 90% of the peer-support group found the peer mentoring to be helpful, although most were originally less receptive to the idea of it.

Limitations of this study include the inability to enforce diet and exercise recommendations amongst the participants. Such lifestyle influences may affect biometric measurements. This study was also specific to peri-menopausal women with type II diabetes, and did not include the broader population. Future studies of longer duration prior to follow up may provide more clinically significant biometric data.


Written By: Allison Pitman Sevillano, MS, PT, DPT

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