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Effects of Yoga on Weight Loss

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Sports
Wordcount: 2099 words Published: 3rd Aug 2018

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  • Austina Burton


For this single-system research design, the main goal was to analyze the effect a 35 day intervention of doing yoga had on weight loss in a college student. A young, single Caucasian female student participated in yoga every day, for 35 days, for 60 minutes each time. A baseline was documented over 15 days, and the intervention was documented over 35 days. Her weight was recorded every five days between seven o’clock and nine o’clock in the morning. At the end of the 35th day, the participant showed an increased weight loss of 7 pounds. The results suggest that doing yoga can have positive effects on weight loss. These results are consistent with prior studies; however those studies included other factors that could influence weight change into their research, whereas this study focused solely on yoga as the main intervention.

Effects of Yoga on Weight Loss

Research suggests that obesity rates in the United States have more than doubled in the past fifty years, with 32.2% of adults considered obese in 2004 (Ogden et al., 2006; Flegal et al., 2002). The Center for Disease Control and Prevention, or most commonly referred to as the CDC, has found that obesity is becoming more common, serious, and costly. Currently, more than one-third of U.S. adults are obese (Adult, 2014). That is 34.9% or 78.6 million people. Rates of overweight and obesity appear to be increasing most dramatically among young adults, the 18-to-29-year-old age group. To be more detailed, the rates went from 7.1% in 1991, to 12.1% in 1998. With those having some college education, they demonstrated even greater increases in overweight and obesity (Mokdad et al., 1999).

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A young Caucasian woman, currently in her sophomore year of college, would like to lose weight by doing yoga; however, she has had trouble losing weight in the past. Studies show that college students are affected greatly by obesity. This critical period, involving the young adult, contains the term “Freshman 15”, which refers to the notion that the first year of college is associated with a fifteen pound weight gain. Yoga has been positively correlated with helping people “shed pounds, or at least keep them from gaining weight” (Fred, 2005). In addition, Bruckheim (1990) found that reducing fat intake can increase weight loss; however, the participant would not like to change her eating habits at this time.

Statement of the Problem

In this study, the case that will be presented is a 19 year old woman, who is going to do yoga; and not change what she eats. She is 5’7” tall and weighed 150 pounds at the beginning of the study. In an interview during the baseline period of the study, the participant stated she was unhappy with her weight, which causes her to feel bad about the way she looks. The participant talked about prior attempts at losing weight, which included dieting and exercising. She also stated that, with being a full time college student, she is unable to stick to a regular schedule of exercising, and has been unable to stay on a diet. Her weight has been over 150 pounds since her 9th grade year of high school, and she has had trouble losing weight ever since. The goal of this study is to increase the participant’s weight loss by doing yoga for 60 minutes per day, for 35 days. The participant’s reason for wanting to lose weight is because she wants to look thinner, and fit better in her clothes.

Literature Review

There have been numerous research studies conducted to find out more about obesity rates in America, as well as how general exercise and dieting can affect weight loss; however, there are few studies addressing the effects yoga can have on weight loss among Caucasian women who are full time students. One study completed by Wharton, Adama and Hampl (2008) found that university students are prone to using inappropriate weight loss practices , and Lloyd-Richardson et al. (2009), found that both males and females gain weight, with similar patterns observed over the freshman year and the greatest weight changes for both sexes occurred during the first semester.

When it comes to physical activity and exercise, Rocette et al. (2005) found that exercise participation was approximately 50% at the beginning and end of freshman year. Although they observed no changes in aerobic or strengthening exercises, more students reported engaging in stretching exercises at the end of freshman year; however, more than half of the students in Rocette’s (2005) sample reported eating high-fat fried or fast foods at least 3 times during the week.

It’s widely known that regular yoga can help reduce stress, which in turn slows the production of cortisol, the hormone responsible for belly fat. A study done by Caffrey (2013) found that yoga practitioners lost fat over an initial 6 month study period, and “kept losing it during a maintenance period with less direct supervision.” Another study, funded by the National Cancer Institute, “involved 15,500 healthy, middle-aged men and women who were asked to complete a written survey recalling their physical activity, and weight history between the ages 45 and 55” (Fred, 2005). The study measured the impact of yoga with weight change, independent of other factors such as diet or other types of physical activity. The result was that those practicing yoga, who were overweight to start with, “lost about 5 pounds during the same time period those not practicing yoga gained 14 pounds” (Fred, 2005).


A single system, research design was conducted over 50 days to assess the effectiveness of yoga on weight loss for an overweight 19 year old Caucasian woman. The weight loss intervention was introduced after a 15 day baseline period. The primary objective was to determine whether yoga could decrease weight, while keeping the same eating habits over a 35 day intervention period.

During the 15 day baseline period (February 1st-15th), the participant was asked to document her weight in pounds every five days by nine o’clock in the morning, using a standard weight scale. The baseline period was reported to the researcher through text messages. Following the 15 day time period, an interview was conducted over the phone, where the participant established her goal to participate in yoga for 60 minutes each day for 35 days. After the baseline period and interview were over, the researcher made phone contacts with the participant every five days to monitor the progress (February 16th-March 22nd). The researcher recorded the participant’s weight in pounds on a graph over a 50 day time period (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. The intervention was implemented following the 15 day baseline period, which is marked by the dotted line.


The goal of this research study was to analyze the effect of a 35 day weight loss intervention based on yoga. A young female college student participated in yoga seven days per week for 60 minutes each day. A baseline was documented over a 15 day time period and the intervention was documented over 35 days. The participant’s weight was recorded every five days. At the end of the 50th day, the participant showed a weight loss of seven pounds. As shown in Figure 1, the goal of decreasing the participant’s weight was met. The participant showed decreased body weight, from 150 pounds to 143 pounds. Those findings are consistent with previous studies.


Single-system research designs are a research methodology that lets a practitioner track their progress with a client (Bloom, 1993). Yoga has been positively associated with weight loss in experimental and quasi-experimental designs, “which look at the effect of an intervention within, or between, groups of people” (Fred, 2005). The use of yoga as an intervention in a single system design worked due to being able to establish a realistic goal and an intervention plan.

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Limitations occur within most research studies. In this single system research design, there were such limitations. Weight loss is affected by numerous things, such as your environment, genetics, metabolic rate, activity level, and what you eat. This study focused solely on activity levels and did not take into account the environment, genetics, metabolic rate or what the participant was eating. An uncontrolled diet was the main limitation to this study. The participant stated that she ate out at least once a week, and mostly ate at the dining hall on her college campus, where the food did not usually meet nutritious guide lines. The effect of this can be seen in Figure 1, when a pound or less was lost between day 25 and 35. The participant’s influx of weight during the baseline period was due to her ending menstrual cycle. The participant stated it was normal for her to gain weight towards the end of it. Before this study, the participant was not getting any exercise on a regular basis, so when she started doing yoga 60 minutes per day, it had a profound effect on her weight. Although a form of exercise alone helped this participant lose weight, research has found that, when coupled with high activity levels, eating healthy can have an even more profound effect on weight loss (Sareen et al, 2012). For that reason, when research is done further on the effects of yoga on weight loss, I recommend having a diet plan incorporated into the design if weight loss is the main goal of the study.


Adult Obesity Facts. (2014, September 9). Retrieved March 15, 2015, from http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html

Bloom, M. (1993). Single-system designs in the social services: Issues and options for the 1990s. New York: Haworth Press.

Bruckheim, A. (June 26, 1990). Reduce fat intake to reduce weight. Chicago Tribune (pre-1997 Fulltext), 2.

Caffrey, M. (2013). Restorative Yoga Better Than Stretching for Trimming Subcutaneous Fat in Overweight Women. American Journal of Managed Care. Retrieved March 22, 2015, from http://www.ajmc.com/publications/evidence-based-diabetes-management/2013/2013-1-Vol19-sp7/Restorative-Yoga-Better-Than-Stretching-for-Trimming-Subcutaneous-Fat-in-Overweight-Women

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. (2005, July 21). Regular Yoga Practice May Help Prevent Middle-age Spread. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 22, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/07/050720064358.htm

Lloyd-Richardson, E.E., Bailey, S., Fava, J.L., and Wing, R.; Tobacco Etiology Research Network (TERN). (2009). A prospective study of weight gain during the college freshman and sophomore years. Prev. Med. 48 (3): 256–261. doi:10.1016/j.ypmed.2008.12.009. PMID:19146870.

Ogden CL, Carroll MD, Curtin LR, McDowell MA, Tabak CJ, Flegal KM. (2006). Prevalence of overweight and obesity in the United States, 1999–2004. Jama; 295(13):1549–1555.

Racette, S. B., Deusinger, S. S., Strube, M. J., Highstein, G. R., & Deusinger, R. H. (2005). Weight Changes, Exercise, and Dietary Patterns during Freshman and Sophomore Years of College. Journal Of American College Health, 53(6), 245-251.

Sareen S. Gropper, Karla P. Simmons, Lenda Jo Connell, and Pamela V. Ulrich. (2012). Changes in body weight, composition, and shape: a 4-year study of college students. Applied Physiology, Nutrition & Metabolism, 37(6), 1118-1123.

Wharton, C. M., Adams, T., & Hampl, J. S. (2008, January 01). Weight loss practices and body weight perceptions among US college students. Journal of American College Health : J of Ach, 56, 5.)


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