Yoga May be Good for People with Diabetes

by Susan Coopersmith, MEd, RD, LDN

Is your blood glucose level hard to control?  Do you struggle with feeling stressed or tired all the time? Yoga might be just what you and health

How Does Yoga Help?

Studies have shown that doing yoga often can help you improve your blood glucose control and lower your cholesterol level. Experts aren’t sure exactly how yoga helps, but they’ve made a few educated guesses. What we do know is that yoga relieves stress, and stress raises blood glucose. Also, when you do yoga, you use fuel for energy, just as a car uses gas to move.  Your energy source in your body is glucose.  As you use more glucose, your blood glucose level goes down.

Your cholesterol might improve because yoga can raise the body’s level of HDL (good) cholesterol.  This type of cholesterol helps your body remove its LDL (bad) cholesterol.  The more HDL you make, the better your cholesterol level will be.

Yoga and insulin

One study showed that yoga reduced insulin resistance, a marker of prediabetes. Insulin resistance happens when your body either ignores its insulin or requires more of it to control its blood glucose level.  When insulin resistance drops, your body becomes better able to use its own insulin in smaller amounts. After you do yoga for a period of time, you may need less insulin or certain other iabetes medicines.

Is it safe?

Before you try a yoga class, ask a member of your healthcare team to see if it’s right for you.  If you have circulation problems, you should not do any yoga poses that require you to cross your legs. Also, be sure to tell your yoga teacher that you have diabetes, so he or she can make sure that the way you move doesn’t cause any problems. Many yoga centers offer one-on-one lessons that you may find very helpful.

If you find that doing yoga helps your diabetes control, you may be tempted to stop taking some of your medicines. But it’s not safe to do that without first speaking to a member of your healthcare team.

Give yoga a try!

You can improve your diabetes control, lower your cholesterol, reduce your stress and feel great. If your healthcare provider gives you the green light and you want to try it, go for it!

For more about how different forms of exercise can improve your health, have a look at Blood Glucose and Video Games.


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