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Background:

Whether the energy cost of vinyasa yoga meets the criteria for moderate-to-vigorous physical activity has not been established.

Purpose:

To compare energy expenditure during acute bouts of vinyasa yoga and 2 walking protocols.

Methods:

Participants (20 males, 18 females) performed 60-minute sessions of vinyasa yoga (YOGA), treadmill walking at a self-selected brisk pace (SELF), and treadmill walking at a pace that matched the heart rate of the YOGA session (HR-Match). Energy expenditure was assessed via indirect calorimetry.

Results:

Energy expenditure was significantly lower in YOGA compared with HR-Match (difference = 79.5 ± 44.3 kcal; P < .001) and SELF (difference = 51.7 ± 62.6 kcal; P < .001), but not in SELF compared with HR-Match (difference = 27.8 ± 72.6 kcal; P = .054). A similar pattern was observed for metabolic equivalents (HR-Match = 4.7 ± 0.8, SELF = 4.4 ± 0.7, YOGA = 3.6 ± 0.6; P < .001). Analyses using only the initial 45 minutes from each of the sessions, which excluded the restorative component of YOGA, showed energy expenditure was significantly lower in YOGA compared with HR-Match (difference = 68.0 ± 40.1 kcal; P < .001) but not compared with SELF (difference = 15.1 ± 48.7 kcal; P = .189).

Conclusions:

YOGA meets the criteria for moderate-intensity physical activity. Thus, YOGA may be a viable form of physical activity to achieve public health guidelines and to elicit health benefits.

Sherman, Rogers, Davis, Creasy, Mullarkey, O’Dell, Donahue, and Jakicic are with the Dept of Health and Physical Activity, Physical Activity, and Weight Management Research Center, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA. Minster is with the Graduate School of Public Health, Dept of Human Genetics, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA.

Sherman (sally.sherman@pitt.edu) is corresponding author.