Yoga may help people living with type 2 diabetes

Guest Post from Dr Tony Tanious – House Call Doctor

For people living with type two diabetes, regular exercise is fundamental to maintaining healthy blood glucose levels. Fortunately, regular exercise doesn’t always have to involve exhaustive weights training or rigorous cardio.  Instead, new research suggests that participating in yoga may help people with diabetes  be less reliant on medication.

Research published in the latest Journal of Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome revealed that a 10% reduction in blood glucose levels was achieved in just 10 days of consistent yoga practice. The study showed that 1,292 participants in the study recorded improved blood glucose levels after a yoga session.

The results left researchers eager to see how blood glucose can be regulated long-term, with ongoing yoga participation. Participants were recommended to continue daily yoga practice for at least 3 months, to better demonstrate the effects on their diabetes management.

Whilst most people living with type two diabetes will manage their condition with regular exercise and balanced nutrition, the reality is that diabetes is a progressive disease that often requires an increase in medication over time.

“Type two diabetes is diagnosed when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, the insulin does not work effectively, or the cells of the body do not respond to insulin effectively,” explains Dr Tony Tanious from House Call Doctor. “Exercise regulates insulin production, and that is why it’s exciting to see that less rigorous forms of training can help people with diabetes too.”

Yoga also involves a number of other benefits for people with diabetes:

  1. Builds muscle strength

When practiced consistently, yoga builds muscle strength by encouraging gentle stretching. Popular movements including chaturanga pose, chair pose, boat pose, crow pose and warrior pose all build strength and muscle tone.

“In many ways, yoga can be just as effective as weight lifting when it comes to building stronger muscles,” says Dr Tanious. “Instead of lifting weights yoga focuses on using your own body weight to build strength.”

  1. Prevents injuries

Yoga requires a fluid movement of joints through their full range of motion, and therefore increases blood flow. “This action helps carry fresh nutrients to cartilage and can assist with joint and cartilage health,” explains Dr Tanious.

  1. Increases blood flow

The stretching, muscle relaxation and deep breathing used within yoga all positively impact the heart, blood circulation and blood pressure. Movements such as Mountain pose, Warrior II, Downward dog, Yoga lunge, Shoulder stand, pigeon pose and savasana can all increase blood flow.

“Poor circulation can cause fluid retention and swelling in lower extremities, lack of energy and shortness of breath” says Dr Tanious. “Therefore increasing blood flow and assisting the circulatory system is highly important.”

  1. Boosts immune system

Yoga helps lower stress hormones, stimulates the lymphatic system and conditions the lungs.

“Flushing the lymphatic system helps remove toxins from the body and oxygenate blood,” says Dr Tanious. This has a tremendous impact on the health of your immune system.

  1. Helps focus and mindfulness

Yoga offers a total mind and body workout, assists with mindfulness and focus as well as a physical workout. Studies suggest that regular yoga practice can help with coordination, reaction time, memory and even IQ scores.

“The incorporation of deep breathing, mindfulness and meditation helps with focus and concentration,” says Dr Tanious. “This can be extremely beneficial not only while practicing yoga but also for everyday life.”

See more on stress management and mindfulness here and how important these things can be for your diabetes and overall health and wellbeing.




  1. Helen Wilde on June 15, 2017 at 10:41 am

    Absolutely. Yoga is a body-mind practice with life long benefits.

    • Helen Edwards on June 19, 2017 at 9:57 am

      I remember going with you as a child, it was a remarkable thing to be in that special space and feel the freedom of lightness