How Yoga Can Benefit Your Heart
About 15 million Americans have practiced yoga at least once, with numerous styles and variations present nationwide. The poses, self-awareness, and controlled breathing involved in yoga help to reduce stress and improve strength and balance, making it a popular fitness option for people of all ages.
A recent study shows that it can also reduce the risk of heart disease.
The study, published in the European Journal of Preventative Cardiology, consisted of 37 clinical trials that involved over 2500 people. Participants averaged 50 years of age and were followed for anywhere between 12 weeks to a year. Researchers looked at the effects yoga had on various indicators compared to aerobic exercise. These indicators included risk factors such as blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol levels, and excess abdominal fat. These factors all play a role in heart disease.
The results showed that, on average, those who practiced yoga had a lower average heart rate by about 5 beats per minute and had lost about 5 pounds. In addition, they showed decreased systolic and diastolic blood pressure by 5.21 mm Hg and 4.9 mm Hg respectively, lower “bad” cholesterol (LDL) by 12.14 mg/dl, and higher “good” cholesterol (HDL) by 3.20 mg/dl. These benefits are roughly equal to those brought about by aerobic exercise, such as running, bicycling, or brisk walking. However, there was no effect on blood sugar.
The researchers warn that more studies will need to be done to determine how exactly yoga influences cardiovascular health, as well as what types of yoga are best for the heart. Also, the trials involved a wide array of varying factors, such as the age of the participants and the varieties of yoga that were practiced.
Good, Relatively Painless Exercise
While it may not necessarily become a standard prescription for heart disease just yet, it is a viable method of exercise for those who might find aerobic exercise to be too much of a strain, whether because of old age or health conditions. Yoga’s relaxation techniques can also help reduce stress, which can lead to improved cardiovascular health.
While yoga has always been boasted as an amazing stretch and pain relieving exercise, it is amazing that it can also benefit the heart and cholesterol levels. You can enjoy the benefit of yoga in your own home or through a gym. The best thing about yoga is that it is widely available and can be done anywhere. What are you waiting for, get into downward dog today.