The role of yoga for chronic diseases in Belgium

YIH News

In Belgium, more than one in three people aged 15 and over claim to suffer from at least one chronic disease, and more than one in three people aged 65 and over suffer from at least two serious chronic diseases (1).

The prevalence of diabetes, depression and sleep disorders, as well as respiratory and heart disease, is systematically higher among vulnerable populations. Poor health habits, isolation and stress are aggravating factors for people at risk of chronic disease (2; 3).

In the poor Brussels area, the population has less access to preventive medicine and makes greater use of emergency services. While prescription sport is an innovative measure, it is not suitable for everyone and does not necessarily reduce stress levels. Disadvantaged socio-economic groups are also less likely to have access to psychotherapy (4).

Group mind-body practices such as yoga have been shown to have a positive impact on many chronic diseases, as well as on lifestyles. Indeed, yoga acts on the neuro-psycho-physiological mechanisms behind chronic conditions. Learning to breathe reduces stress, promotes well-being and helps to manage health (5).


(1) J. Van der Heyden, R. Charafeddine. Enquête de santé 2018 : Maladies et affections chroniques. Bruxelles, Belgique : Sciensano. Numéro de rapport : D/2019/14.440/27. Disponible en ligne :


(3) Observatoire de la Santé et du Social de Bruxelles-Capitale. Tous égaux face à la santé à Bruxelles ? Données récentes et cartographie sur les inégalités sociales de santé. Commission communautaire commune, Bruxelles, 2019

(4) Observatoire de la Santé et du Social de Bruxelles-Capitale. Le recours aux urgences hospitalières par les Bruxellois (2008-2016) : Focus sur la population de moins de 15 ans et de 65 ans et plus. Commission communautaire commune, Bruxelles, 2019. Disponible en ligne :

(5) Divya Siddarth, Prabha Siddarth, Helen Lavretsky, An Observational Study of the Health Benefits of Yoga or Tai Chi Compared with Aerobic Exercise in Community-Dwelling Middle-Aged and Older Adults, The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, Volume 22, Issue 3, 2014, Pages 272-273, ISSN 1064-7481, (

Leave a Reply