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Yoga For Weight Loss?

April 7, 2014
Photo credit: Thinkstock

Photo credit: Thinkstock

Losing weight is very difficult for most people.

In fact, 95 percent of the people who embark on a diet either don’t lose a significant amount of weight, or they regain the weight they lost within five years according to a National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders report.

Combining a diet with an exercise program is far more effective because exercise increases your metabolism, while losing weight by dieting alone decreases your metabolism.

The key to metabolism is your muscles. When you become more muscular, you burn off weight faster not only while you’re exercising, but also when you’re doing your everyday activities.

This is important because every activity burns off some weight, including sleeping. A more muscular person will burn more calories sleeping, as well as working and walking and everything else, than a less muscular person.

Explaining weight loss

To lose one pound, you must burn off 3,500 more calories than you consume. Generally, depending on your weight and level of activity, you should consume 1,500 to 2,500 calories per day. If you eat 2,000 calories per day, you will lose one pound if you burn off 2,500 calories per day for seven consecutive days.

Explaining yoga

Yoga is a combination of breathing, meditation, relaxation, stretching and visualization.

The fact that yoga doesn’t build muscle and doesn’t require the heart to work hard enough to significantly increase your heart rate explains why it burns off far fewer calories than many other exercises.

It is said that an average 125 pound person who does yoga for an hour will burn 226 calories, while an average 175 pound person doing the same activity will burn 317 calories. On the other hand, tennis, swimming, and slow jogging burn roughly twice as many calories.

Weight-loss comparisons

The Harvard Health Publications chart makes it clear that yoga is not a good activity if weight loss is your primary goal. The chart lists 20 “gym activities.” Yoga is tied for 18th in weight loss. A 155 pound person will burn 298 calories per hour doing yoga, according to the chart.

This means you will have to do yoga for nearly 12 hours to lose one pound. By comparison, you can lose one pound via vigorous stationary bicycling in about 4.5 hours because it burns 782 calories per hour.

Yoga, in fact, burns fewer calories than most of the outdoor activities on the list, including gardening and mowing the lawn, as well as most home repair activities.

How to use yoga

Yoga can be part of a weight loss program in this sense – stretching is part of the American College of Sports Medicine’s (ACSM) recommendations for weekly exercise.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

Photo credit: Thinkstock

The ACSM recommends that people get and stay in good physical condition via aerobic exercises, strength training exercises, and flexibility exercises.

Aerobic exercise is continuous exercise such as running, bicycling, and swimming. The ACSM recommends 20 to 60 minutes per day of aerobic exercise three to five days per week.

It also recommends about 10 repetitions of about 10 different strength training exercises such as pushups, sit-ups, and weightlifting two to three days per week.

The ACSM’s flexibility exercise recommendations include stretching. The stretching exercises, including yoga, make you less susceptible to injury during aerobic and strength training exercises and should be done before those exercises.

While stretching has physical benefits, the meditation aspects of yoga can add mental benefits to the stretching and can reduce your heartbeat and blood pressure. In addition, yoga can help you sleep better and make you more energetic.

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