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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


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Shirley Archer-Eichenberger, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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