The Effect of Yoga Practice on Glucose Control, Physiological Stress, and Well-Being in Type 2 Diabetes: Exploring a Mechanism of Action

Maricarmen Vizcaino, University of Texas at El Paso


Multiple studies have found yoga practice to be effective in improving glucose control and other health markers of adults with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). However, current findings cannot reach a consensus given multiple methodological inconsistencies. The primary purpose of this dissertation work was to investigate the impact of yoga practice on the glucose control of participants with T2DM through two different approaches in two separate exploratory studies. The first study, a quasi-experimental design, examined the effect of eight weeks of yoga practice on glucose control taking into account previous limitations in the literature. The second study, a single-subject design, examined the acute effect of yoga practice on momentary glucose control. The secondary purpose was to explore a mechanism of change that may explain possible improvements in glucose control of T2DM patients by investigating diurnal variations of hormones associated with the stress response and examining concurrent variations in measures of psychological and emotional health. In the quasi-experimental study, yoga participants showed a decrease in hemoglobin A1c at the end of the intervention compared to the control group, but change was not statistically significant. Diurnal curves of both cortisol and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) showed an overall trend towards improvement, and perceived stress was found significantly lower at the end of the intervention in yoga participants. Changes in morning cortisol and DHEA were found significantly correlated to perceived stress, positive and negative emotions. In the single-subject design, some participants showed the greatest decrease in glucose levels after 60 min. of yoga practice compared to a control condition, and these decreases appeared to be related to decreases in cortisol and changes in positive and negative emotions. However, results were inconsistent; the magnitude of the effect of yoga on glucose seems to vary between individuals and depend on current level of health status. Findings from this study warrant further investigation. In addition, this dissertation provides important lessons learned for future researchers focusing on this topic and this priority population.

Subject Area

Alternative Medicine|Health sciences|Kinesiology

Recommended Citation

Vizcaino, Maricarmen, "The Effect of Yoga Practice on Glucose Control, Physiological Stress, and Well-Being in Type 2 Diabetes: Exploring a Mechanism of Action" (2017). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI10281377.