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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 4 (2007), Issue 4, Pages 469-486

The Influence of Yoga-Based Programs on Risk Profiles in Adults with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: A Systematic Review

1Center for the Study of Complementary and Alternative Therapies, The Blake Center, Suite G113, PO Box 800905, University of Virginia Health Systems, Charlottesville, VA 22908-0905, USA
2Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of Virginia Health Systems, Charlottesville, VA, USA

Received 20 July 2006; Accepted 13 November 2006

Copyright © 2007 Kim E. Innes and Heather K. Vincent. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


There is growing evidence that yoga may offer a safe and cost-effective intervention for Type 2 Diabetes mellitus (DM 2). However, systematic reviews are lacking. This article critically reviews the published literature regarding the effects of yoga-based programs on physiologic and anthropometric risk profiles and related clinical outcomes in adults with DM 2. We performed a comprehensive literature search using four computerized English and Indian scientific databases. The search was restricted to original studies (1970–2006) that evaluated the metabolic and clinical effects of yoga in adults with DM 2. Studies targeting clinical populations with cardiovascular disorders that included adults with comorbid DM were also evaluated. Data were extracted regarding study design, setting, target population, intervention, comparison group or condition, outcome assessment, data analysis and presentation, follow-up, and key results, and the quality of each study was evaluated according to specific predetermined criteria. We identified 25 eligible studies, including 15 uncontrolled trials, 6 non-randomized controlled trials and 4 randomized controlled trials (RCTs). Overall, these studies suggest beneficial changes in several risk indices, including glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity, lipid profiles, anthropometric characteristics, blood pressure, oxidative stress, coagulation profiles, sympathetic activation and pulmonary function, as well as improvement in specific clinical outcomes. Yoga may improve risk profiles in adults with DM 2, and may have promise for the prevention and management of cardiovascular complications in this population. However, the limitations characterizing most studies preclude drawing firm conclusions. Additional high-quality RCTs are needed to confirm and further elucidate the effects of standardized yoga programs in populations with DM 2.