The Benefits of Yoga on Your Heart Health

December 17th, 2014

Studies have discovered some good news for those of us not keen on the idea of facing the winter elements in order to keep fit. A recent study has found that the gentle, peaceful practice of yoga is just as good for the heart as cycling is.

Researchers analysed a collection of studies into the impact of yoga, and found that it has a number of health benefits.

As well as leading to weight loss, yoga lowers blood pressure and cuts down high cholesterol. The benefits were found to be equal to those of more conventional exercise methods such as brisk walking and cycling. In some cases, it was even found that yoga was more beneficial than some prescription medication. Yoga can even help people to quit smoking.

These finding are essential, because it suggest that people who struggle to partake in conventional exercise are able to practice yoga instead, keeping their heart healthy. Heart disease is one of the UK's biggest killers, and over 70,000 lives are lost each year to heart attacks and other cardiac problems. The biggest risk factors include not exercising, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking.

The researchers are unsure of the reason why yoga is so effective, but believe that the combination of stress relief and exercise may be the answer. Yoga focuses on breathing and working the muscles, which brings more oxygen to the body, leading to lower blood pressure.

37 studies into yoga's health benefits were analysed, and these studies involved over 2,700 people. It was found that yoga had a clear impact on the health of the candidates.

Men and women who were prescribed yoga as part of one study lost 5lb more than those who didn't do any extra exercise. The people practicing yoga for around 3 months also saw a drop in both blood pressure and cholesterol. These findings can be found in the European Journal of Preventative Cardiology.

One trial involved people at risk of heart problems, and it was found that their blood pressure dropped nearly 3 times as much when practicing yoga compared to when taking prescription medication. Yoga was also helpful to people who already receiving treatment for heart disease.

However, the most exciting results were connected with exercise. The analysis showed that yoga was just as good as conventional exercise in the improvement of heart health. The significance of these findings lies in the suggestion that people who prefer not to perform conventional aerobic exercises can still achieve the same results through yoga. Yoga can improve quality of life better than other exercise techniques by easing anxiety and stress.

According to the NHS, people of all ages can take up yoga, and chair-based yoga is an option for people who are unable to sit down easily on the floor.