Regular physical activity has been shown to improve overall physical fitness. The long-term adherence to physical activity is a big challenge for health maintenance; so, pleasure activities, as Hatha Yoga (yoga), may represent a good alternative on both individual and public contexts. Yoga is an ancient activity designated to both health and unhealthy individuals. It integrates physical, mental, and spiritual components and may improve aspects of health. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the effects of a 12-week systematized yoga intervention on health-related physical fitness components assessed by body mass, body mass index (BMI), waist circumference (WC), relative body fat, abdominal endurance, upper body endurance, hamstring flexibility, and cardiorespiratory fitness. The study was performed at University of Brasília, Faculty of Physical Education, Distrito Federal, Brazil. Twenty-five young healthy yoga novices (22.36 ± 2.40 years), both gender, volunteered to participate in this study. The intervention was based on 50 minutes yoga class, twice a week for 12 weeks, involving physical poses, meditation, and relaxation. Measurements were performed one week prior to and one week after the yoga intervention. Collecting data included age, gender, height, body mass, body fat estimates and physical fitness tests. Body fat percentage was determinated by the measure of skinfolds at seven sites. Muscle strength/endurance was evaluated by push-up and sit-up tests. Hamstring flexibility was assessed using sit-and-reach test protocol. The 12-minutes Cooper test was performed to estimate cardiorespiratory fitness. Participants that attended at least 75% of the total sessions were included in the study results. The results showed 1.3 (1.0 - 4.0) cm decrease in WC and 0.7 (0.9 - 1.5) decrease in body fat percentage, and 7.8 (2.0 - 5.0) cm increase in hamstring flexibility and 3.0 (1.0 - 4.0) in abdominal endurance, after the yoga intervention (p < 0.01). In conclusion, the present study found that a 12-week yoga program improved physical fitness in young healthy subjects.
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