19 December 2014 by Neil Boston
Yoga is an ancient form of exercise that focuses on strength, flexibility and controlled breathing to boost physical and mental wellbeing. Research suggests doing Yoga may be a good way to protect against heart disease, particularly if you cannot or prefer not to do more vigorous exercise.
Health benefits of Yoga
A review carried out by Professor Myriam Hunink in Holland of 37 studies involving 2,768 people found Yoga was independently linked to a lowering of heart risk factors including cholesterol, heart rate and high blood pressure.
Maureen Talbot, Senior Cardiac Nurse at the British Heart Foundation said “Any physical activity that can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease developing should be encouraged, and the benefits of yoga on emotional health are well established. This study’s findings are promising, showing some improvement in blood pressure, cholesterol and weight, which are risk factors for cardiovascular disease. The benefits could be due to working the muscles and breathing, which can bring more oxygen into the body, leading to lower blood pressure.” She said the benefits of yoga on emotional health were well-established.
h1.Yoga is as good as aerobic exercise
There are many different types of Yoga including Tantric, Hatha and Ashtanga; but most are not strenuous enough to count towards the 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity the government says we should get each week to give our heart and lungs a workout. Though Yoga does count as a muscle strengthening exercise, something the guidelines say we should do on two or more days a week, every week.
When compared with other types of exercise, such as brisk walking, cycling or jogging, Yoga was equally as good based on the same measures of heart risk. Professor Hunink said: “These results indicate that yoga is potentially very useful and in my view worth pursuing as a risk improvement practice.” It is not clear why yoga might be beneficial, but experts say it could be down to its calming effect. Stress has been linked to heart disease and high blood pressure.