Millions of us aging adults are looking to slow down the hands of time. One answer may be as simple as turning to your yoga mat on a regular basis. A new study shows daily yoga practice increases two key hormones linked to youth and longevity: Growth hormone (GH) and dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate (DHEAS).
As we age, the amount of GH and DHEAS in our bodies markedly decreases. GH is known to stimulate the generation of new tissues like skin and muscle. DHEAS is linked to immune function and heart health. Previous studies have shown that regular exercise is associated with increased levels of GH and DHEAS throughout the lifespan. This study explored whether yoga impacts the same biochemical markers of healthy aging.
Forty-five, yoga-novice adults ranging in age from 34 to 53 years were assigned to either a yoga group or a control condition. Those in the yoga group engaged in full yoga practices 6 days per week for 12 weeks. During the first week, adults in the yoga group performed 45-minute practices. Practices increased in duration and intensity during the course of 12 weeks, with weeks 8 through 12 consisting of 105 minutes. Participants in the control group engaged in their typical activities. GH and DHEAS were measured at the beginning of the program, at 6-weeks, and at program completion (12-weeks).
The yoga participants had significant increases in their blood serum GH and DHEAS values from baseline to the end of the 12-week yoga program. They also experienced notable declines in their body mass index (BMI), a measure of body fat based on height and weight.
When compared to the control group, both male and female yoga group participants demonstrated increased levels of growth hormone (GH) at 6 weeks. This trend continued at the 12 week post-test for men only. For DHEAS, both men and women showed consistent trends toward higher values over the course of the 12-week period compared to controls.
These results suggest that near daily, intensive yoga practice for a period of an hour or more may raise the levels of indicators known to be related to cell generation and health. These findings are consistent with the research that regular exercise is linked with slowing down the aging process. It is also consistent with the message from Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology that recommends adults engage in 150 minutes of exercise per week to remain healthy.