Practicing yoga for as little as three months can reduce fatigue and lower inflammation in breast cancer survivors, according to new research.
In fact, the more the women in this randomized, controlled clinical trial - who ranged in age from 27 to 76 years and had completed all their cancer treatments before the start of the study - practiced yoga, the better their results.
Study participants practiced yoga twice a week in 90-minute sessions over a period of 12 weeks. Women in the control group received the same yoga sessions once the trial was over - but during the study, they went about their normal routines and did not do any yoga.
Three months after formal yoga practice had ended fatigue was 57 percent lower in women who had practiced yoga compared to the non-yoga group. Also, their inflammation was reduced by up to 20 percent. Not only that, levels of three protein markers related to inflammation were lower in the yoga group.
In other words, modest yoga practice over a period of several months had significant benefits for breast cancer survivors. Study researchers believe that these results can be generalized to other patients who also have issues with fatigue and inflammation.
The research team focused on breast cancer survivors because cancer therapy is very taxing and leads to reduced cardiorespiratory fitness which may be linked to higher levels of inflammation. Chronic inflammation is linked to numerous health problems, including coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, arthritis and Alzheimer's disease, as well as aging-related health issues.
More frequent yoga practice led to greater improvements in fatigue, vitality and symptoms of depression as well as greater reductions in inflammation-related protein markers. The yoga group also reported significantly improved sleep quality compared to the control group, which could be partly responsible for lower levels of inflammation observed in these patients.
Finally, reduced fatigue levels enabled these women to engage in other activities over time, thereby offering a variety of benefits in addition to the yoga exercises themselves.
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