A comparative study of the effects of yoga and swimming on pulmonary functions in sedentary subjects

Department of Physiology, VN GMC, Yeotmal, Maharashtra, India.
International Journal of Yoga 07/2012; 5(2):128-33. DOI: 10.4103/0973-6131.98232
Source: PubMed


The modality of exercise that is most beneficial and easy to perform has become a topic of research. Yogic exercises are being widely studied; however, postulated benefits of yogic exercises over other exercises must be scientifically explored. Prospective randomized comparative studies involving yoga and other endurance exercises are conspicuous by their absence.
This study was, therefore, designed to assess and compare the effects of yogic training and swimming on pulmonary functions in normal healthy young volunteers.
100 volunteers were inducted into the study and randomly divided into two groups: One group underwent 12 weeks training for yogic exercises and other for swimming. The training and data acquisition was done in small cohorts of 10 subjects each. The subjects were assessed by studying their anthropometric parameters and pulmonary function parameters (FVC, FEV1/FVC ratio, PEFR, FEF25-75%, FEF 0.2-1.2 l and MVV) both before and after training.
All parameters showed statistically significant improvements after both yoga and swimming. Comparison of these improvements for different parameters statistically analyzed by unpaired t test or Mann Whitney U test depicted a statistically better improvement in FVC, FEF25-75% and MVV with swimming as compared to yogic exercises.
The output of this study gives slight edge to swimming as a preferred modality of exercise though either yoga or swimming can be advocated as an exercise prescription as both the modalities cause significant improvement of respiratory health. However, other factors like ability of any exercise regime to keep continued motivation and interest of the trainees must be taken into account for exercise prescription.

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    • "In a recent study, all pulmonary function parameters except FEV1/FVC improved significantly (p < 0.0001) in both yoga and swimming groups [39]. Besides, better pulmonary functions in subjects performing yoga as well as swimming are documented [4,40]. Statistically significant changes in pulmonary function of FEV1/FVC and FEV1 values in people who performed regularly physical activity compared with sedentary people were shown [4]. "
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