Science

Can yoga help you lose weight?


Can yoga help you lose weight? There’s plenty of evidence to suggest it can help with mobility, but there’s not much proof to show that the exercise is a real calorie-torcher. One study, published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health (opens in new tab), showed that a 60-minute Vinyasa practice burned fewer calories than a walking session on a treadmill. As such, it’s probably not the most effective style of training if you’re trying to lose weight.

There is some evidence to show that certain individuals can lose weight through yoga, but the average healthy person won’t see significant changes. Keep in mind though that the benefits of yoga (opens in new tab) are numerous, so if you have invested in one of the best yoga mats (opens in new tab) it’s worth hanging onto it for now. Here’s what the latest research says on yoga and weight loss. 

Can yoga help you lose weight?

A systematic review of 445 records, published in Preventative Medicine (opens in new tab), concluded that there was little evidence to suggest that yoga could have dramatic effects on the weight of healthy individuals. However, the review notes that there were some significant changes in body mass recorded for overweight individuals who participated in yoga studies. So the practice could decrease the weight of some people – but as with a lot of exercise programs, this depends on your starting fitness level, along with the frequency and intensity of the yoga sessions. 

Yoga students holding mountain pose

(Image credit: Getty)

Research has also shown that yoga can lower your basal metabolic rate – the amount of energy needed for the body’s housekeeping functions. If this rate is lowered, the whole body slows down and this means the body needs fewer calories for its housekeeping functions. A study published in 2006 in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine (opens in new tab) found the basal metabolic rate was reduced by 13% in people who had practiced yoga compared to those who had not.



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