Academic journal article International Journal of Yoga

A Comparative Study of the Effects of Yoga and Swimming on Pulmonary Functions in Sedentary Subjects

Academic journal article International Journal of Yoga

A Comparative Study of the Effects of Yoga and Swimming on Pulmonary Functions in Sedentary Subjects

Article excerpt

Byline: Shilpa. Gupta, Manish. Sawane

Context: 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. Aim: This study was, therefore, designed to assess and compare the effects of yogic training and swimming on pulmonary functions in normal healthy young volunteers. Materials and Methods: 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. Results: 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. Conclusions: 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.


Exercises in different forms, if performed regularly, have a beneficial effect on the various systems of the body. The modality of exercise that is most beneficial and economic for masses has now become the topic of research. [sup][1] The conventional exercises (endurance exercises like walking, jogging, running, swimming, cycling, etc), which give stress on cardiovascular and respiratory systems and test the responses of these systems, are very popular. On the other hand, ancient yogic exercises which have been claimed to benefit human body on multiple fronts are also getting popularity all over the world. [sup][2]

In the present study, the focus is on the effect of yoga (asanas and pranayama) and swimming on the lungs as pulmonary function has been identified as a long-term predictor for overall survival rates as well as a tool in general health assessment. [sup][3] Both yoga and swimming have been reported to improve the pulmonary functions to a great extent as both the modalities involve physical activity as well as breathing exercise. [sup][4],[5] Efficacy of different modules must be compared as practicing any one exercise module may not be feasible by different people. The aim of the present study was, therefore, to assess the beneficial effects of these exercises and to compare the improvements in the lung functions by these two modalities of exercises. Very few cross-sectional comparative studies between yoga and other endurance exercises have been published [sup][4] and there are no reports of prospective comparative studies. Therefore with an aim to study and compare the improvement of lung functions by yoga and swimming, well-planned, randomized comparative prospective study was undertaken.

Materials and Methods

Study set up

The study was conducted in Department of Physiology in Post Graduate Research Laboratory in co-ordination with Yoga Centre and Municipal Swimming Pool.

Study groups

Healthy males and females with normal physical examination and with sedentary occupations between 18 and 40 years of age were included in the study. …

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