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Physiol Behav. 2012 Dec 5;107(5):809-13. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2012.01.016. Epub 2012 Jan 27.

Adiponectin, leptin, and yoga practice.

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  • 1Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research, Ohio State University College of Medicine, 460 Medical Center Boulevard, Columbus, OH 43210, USA.


To address the mechanisms underlying hatha yoga's potential stress-reduction benefits, we compared adiponectin and leptin data from well-matched novice and expert yoga practitioners. These adipocytokines have counter-regulatory functions in inflammation; leptin plays a proinflammatory role, while adiponectin has anti-inflammatory properties. Fifty healthy women (mean age=41.32, range=30-65), 25 novices and 25 experts, provided fasting blood samples during three separate visits. Leptin was 36% higher among novices compared to experts, P=.008. Analysis of adiponectin revealed a borderline effect of yoga expertise, P=.08; experts' average adiponectin levels were 28% higher than novices across the three visits. In contrast, experts' average adiponectin to leptin ratio was nearly twice that of novices, P=.009. Frequency of self-reported yoga practice showed significant negative relationships with leptin; more weeks of yoga practice over the last year, more lifetime yoga sessions, and more years of yoga practice were all significantly associated with lower leptin, with similar findings for the adiponectin to leptin ratio. Novices and experts did not show even marginal differences on behavioral and physiological dimensions that might represent potential confounds, including BMI, central adiposity, cardiorespiratory fitness, and diet. Prospective studies addressing increased risk for type II diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease have highlighted the importance of these adipocytokines in modulating inflammation. Although these health risks are clearly related to more extreme values then we found in our healthy sample, our data raise the possibility that longer-term and/or more intensive yoga practice could have beneficial health consequences by altering leptin and adiponectin production.

Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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