Metabolic Demands of Yoga at Varying Tempos and Compared With Walking

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background: Yoga is a popular alternative to walking, but the tempo at which asanas must be performed to elicit comparable metabolic and cardiorespiratory demands is unknown. Therefore, the authors aim to compare the metabolic demands of moderate-intensity walking to Surya Namaskar yoga performed at varying tempos. Methods: Inactive obese adults with limited prior yoga experience (n = 10) completed 10 minutes of treadmill walking at a self-selected pace (rating of perceived exertion = 12–13) and three, 10-minute bouts of yoga at a low (6 s/pose; LSUN), medium (4 s/pose; MSUN), and high (3 s/pose; HSUN) tempo with 10-minutes rest between exercise bouts. Results: Mean metabolic equivalents observed in MSUN (3.64 [0.607]), HSUN (4.22 [0.459]), and treadmill (5.29 [1.147]) were greater than 3.0 (P ≤ .01), but not LSUN (3.28 [0.529], P = .13). Treadmill elicited greater caloric and kilocaloric expenditure (1.36 [0.23] L·min−1; 64 [11] kcal) than LSUN (0.87 [0.24] L·min−1; 39 [11] kcal) and MSUN (1.00 [0.29] L·min−1; 45 [13] kcal) (P ≤ .01). Absolute V˙O2 between yoga tempos were not different, but relative V˙O2 was higher in HSUN (14.89 [1.74] mL·min−1·kg) versus LSUN (11.39 [1.83] mL·min−1·kg) (P = .02). Conclusions: Yoga can meet (LSUN) or exceed (MSUN and HSUN) moderate-intensity exercise recommendations. For unfit or obese populations, varying tempos of yoga practice may serve as a lower-impact option for beginning an exercise program.

Pryor is with the Department of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY. Pryor, Christensen, Jackson, and Moore-Reed are with the Department of Kinesiology, California State University, Fresno, Fresno, CA.

Pryor ( is corresponding author.

Supplementary Materials

    • Supplementary Figure 1 (PDF 142 KB)