Have you been holding off on living the lifestyle of a yogi? Perhaps it’s time to make a move. Recent research published in the European Journal of Preventative Cardiology has found that yoga may have similar positive effects on the body as walking or even biking. Yoga improves heart health, normalizes blood pressure, helps you maintain a healthy weight, and much more.
“This finding is significant, as individuals who cannot or prefer not to perform traditional aerobic exercise might still achieve similar benefits in [cardiovascular] risk reduction,” the authors say.
As yoga is not quite as intense as jogging or biking, the researchers predictably note that the positive effects could potentially be due to yoga’s role in reducing disease-fueling stress reduction, “leading to positive impacts on neuroendocrine status, metabolic and cardio-vagal function.”
“The similarity of yoga and exercise’s effect on cardiovascular risk factors suggest that there could be comparable working mechanisms, with some possible physiological aerobic benefits occurring with yoga practice, and some stress-reducing relaxation effect occurring with aerobic exercise,” say the investigators.
Senior author Prof. Myriam Hunink, from Erasmus University Medical Center in the Netherlands and Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, MA, says:
“Although the evidence of yoga’s beneficial effect in cardiovascular health is growing, a physiological explanation for this effect remains unclear. Also unclear, are the dose-response relationship and the relative costs and benefits of yoga when compared to exercise or medication. However, these results indicate that yoga is potentially very useful and in my view worth pursuing as a risk improvement practice.”
What’s more, the study authors note that yoga is able to be practiced by those with pre-existing cardiac conditions, lower physical tolerance, the elderly, and those with musculoskeletal or joint pain.
“Yoga has the potential to be a cost-effective treatment and prevention strategy given its low cost, lack of expensive equipment or technology, potential greater adherence and health-related quality of life improvements, and possible accessibility to larger segments of the population,” the authors conclude.
These findings complement other recent research as well. Another study found that yoga can help treat diseases associated with metabolic syndrome while helping to promote a fully functioning nervous system after we are exposed to stress.
You don’t have to wait for a yoga class to start reaping the benefits, either. Try these yogic-inspired relaxation techniques to change your body chemistry now.