F-30 Free Communication/Poster - Mental Health: JUNE 3, 2011 1:00 PM - 6:00 PM: ROOM: Hall B
Yoga is a form of physical activity that has been gaining in popularity in the United States. Although the transient benefits of yoga to physical and psychological health have been demonstrated empirically, there is little information on the enduring health benefits among yogis - those practicing yoga consistently over many years.
PURPOSE: To examine differences in several dimensions of psychological well-being (general health, anxiety, depression, coping, mindfulness, and perceived stress) between yogis and those engaging in regular cardiovascular exercise and weight training.
METHODS: Participants (N = 163; male=31, female=132) were adults (18 to 65 years) recruited from yoga studios and fitness clubs in the DC Metropolitan area. Self-reported information on psychological well-being was ascertained from several validated measures via an on-line survey tool. Mean scores for the study variables were compared between yogis (n=62) and exercisers (n=101) using independent t-tests and multivariable regression modeling.
RESULTS: On average, participants were 34 years of age, primarily Caucasian (88%) and of higher educational attainment. The yoga group reported a lower prevalence of joint pain and headaches compared with the exercisers (p<0.05). Moreover, the yoga group reported higher scores for mindfulness (66.9±12 vs. 58.9±13; p<0.001), lower scores for perceived stress (12.6±5.2 vs. 14.8±5.4, p<0.05) and higher scores for coping skills (26.3±4.5 vs. 23.9±4.9, p<0.05) compared with the exercise group. Surprisingly, the two groups were similar with regard to self-reported symptoms of anxiety and depression.
CONCLUSION: The enduring and specific benefits of yoga to mindfulness and consequent stress reduction should be emphasized in community-based health promotion strategies.