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Yoga in the Management of Chronic Disease

A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Desveaux, Laura MScPT, PhD(C)*,†; Lee, Annemarie PhD†,‡; Goldstein, Roger MD, FCCP†,‡; Brooks, Dina MScPT, PhD*,†,‡,§

doi: 10.1097/MLR.0000000000000372
Original Articles

Background: Heart disease, stroke, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are the leading causes of death and disability worldwide. Although individuals with these conditions have been reported to benefit from yoga, its effectiveness remains unclear.

Objective: To perform a systematic review of the effectiveness of yoga on exercise capacity, health related quality of life (HRQL), and psychological well-being for individuals with chronic disease and describe the structure and delivery of programs.

Research Design: We performed a systematic review of randomized controlled trials examining yoga programs for individuals with heart disease, stroke, and COPD compared with usual care. Quality was assessed using the Cochrane risk of bias tool. Meta-analyses were conducted using Review Manager 5.3. The protocol was registered on PROSPERO (CRD42014014589).

Results: Ten studies (431 individuals, mean age 56±8 y) were included and were comparable in their design and components, irrespective of the chronic disease. The standardized mean difference for the mean change in exercise capacity was 2.69 (95% confidence interval, 1.39–3.99) and for HRQL it was 1.24 (95% confidence interval, −0.37 to 2.85). Symptoms of anxiety were reduced after yoga in individuals with stroke, although this was not observed in individuals with COPD. The effect of yoga on symptoms of depression varied across studies with no significant effects compared with usual care.

Conclusions: Yoga programs have similar designs and components across chronic disease populations. Compared with usual care, yoga resulted in significant improvements in exercise capacity and a mean improvement in HRQL. Yoga programs may be a useful adjunct to formal rehabilitation programs.

*Department of Rehabilitation Science, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto

Department of Respiratory Medicine, West Park Healthcare Centre

Departments of Physical Therapy

§Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Reprints: Dina Brooks, MScPT, PhD, Department of Physical Therapy, University of Toronto, 160-500 University Ave., Toronto, ON, Canada M5G 1V7. E-mail:

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