Yoga has Beneficial Effects on Patients with Chronic Diseases and Improves Immune Functions

Nobuhiko Eda

The practice of various styles of yoga has become popular in Western countries. Recently, chronic diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cancer, cardiovascular diseases (CVD), obesity and diabetes mellitus, have emerged as serious problems worldwide, and it has become important for older adults to maintain or improve their immune functions. Yoga has been reported to have positive effects on distress and functional performance in patients with chronic diseases and improves several immunological indicators. In this paper, we review recent studies that have examined the effects of yoga on chronic diseases, especially COPD and cancer, and immune functions including those mediated by human β-defensin 2 (HBD-2), natural killer (NK) cells, and proinflammatory cytokines. We suggest that yoga has a potential use as a complementary and alternative therapy for chronic diseases, and we expect yoga to be useful for older adults who wish to maintain their health.