Who Practices Yoga for Health Reasons?
In the United States, who is practicing yoga to benefit their health? According to an analysis of national survey data published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine (2008; doi: 10.1007/s11606-008-0735-5), the typical practitioner of yoga for health reasons is Caucasian, female and college educated, with a mean age of 39.5 years. The researchers were affiliated with Harvard Medical School in Boston. They evaluated data from the 2002 National Health Interview Survey to identify yoga participants who were motivated by medical conditions or health maintenance. Analysis showed that 5.1% of the U.S. population—10.4 million Americans—did yoga for health reasons. The most common medical reasons for practicing yoga included musculoskeletal conditions, mental health issues and asthma. Most practitioners felt that yoga played an important part in maintaining their health and well-being. The study authors noted that with such strong interest in yoga for health, more rigorous research should be conducted to establish which types of yoga are best for specific medical conditions.
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