Practicing yoga postures, meditation and breathing exercises can help women with breast cancer to enjoy greater functional fitness and to feel better about their health, according to findings from a small study presented at the 2006 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. “The women who practiced yoga reported better physical functioning, such as the ability to walk a mile, climb stairs and lift groceries,” Lorenzo Cohen, PhD, director of integrative medicine at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, told Reuters news service. “They also felt better about their overall health and reported less fatigue and problems sleeping.”

The study included 61 women who were undergoing radiation treatment for breast cancer. Subjects were randomized into either the yoga group or a wait-list group. Yoga participants took classes for a 6-week period twice a week. These women reported higher physical function and general health scores than those in the control group. The researchers suggested that practicing yoga may help women with breast cancer improve their quality of life in certain ways.