A healthy lifestyle starts with physical activity. In order to improve your health and make sure your heart functions properly it is often recommended to do aerobic exercises. If you want to try something new while still doing something that has a beneficial effect on your heart, then yoga is the right activity for you. While most people would never associate yoga and healthy heart, science has spoken and it turns out yoga is as good for your heart as aerobic exercise.
What does science say?
The European Journal of Preventative Cardiology discovered that practicing yoga had the same effect on reducing cardiovascular markers, just like other types of physical activity. Results of the study were the same for both healthy people and participants who already experienced various cardiovascular problems.
The study was conducted by Paula Chu, a doctoral candidate in health policy at Harvard University. Together with her team, Paula Chu looked at 37 previous studies that included more than 2800 people. The participants of these studies were randomly selected and divided into three groups. First group had to practice yoga, second group had to do some other type of physical activity (walking, running, biking etc.), and third group didn’t have to do any type of physical activity.
Scientists concluded that yoga lowers blood pressure, heart rate, cholesterol and other cardiovascular risks with the same intensity as with other types of exercises. Yoga and other types of exercise had beneficial effects on a few measures of metabolic and heart health. For example:
- Reduced BMI
- They reduced LDL cholesterol by 12mg/dl
- Both types of physical activity increased HDL cholesterol by 3mg/dl.
The researchers were surprised to find out that both yoga and other types of exercise had the same level of effect, comparing to participants in the group that didn’t have to do any type of physical activity.
How can yoga have the same impact as aerobic exercise?
Many organizations recommend physical activity to protect heart health and it is usually recommended to do 150 minutes of aerobic exercise per week (30 minutes a day, five times a week). Technically, yoga doesn’t count as the aerobic exercise and the question is: how can yoga have the same effect as other forms of physical activity? Scientists say that it is due to the fact that yoga is a form of muscle strengthening. Moreover, yoga is known for its benefits to reduce the stress, which is one of the factors that lead to cardiovascular problems. Authors of this research stated that according to all studies they investigated it can be concluded that yoga has the ability to modulate autonomic function and alter markers of parasympathetic and sympathetic activity. While you are practicing yoga, the level of stress reduces which has a positive effect on neuroendocrine status, cardio-vagal and metabolic function, and other associated inflammatory responses.
Simply said, yoga positively affects our nervous system and the stress response through a reduction of inflammation and hormone function. According to scientists, results of this study are highly important mostly because yoga is a cost-effective manner to protect your health. Moreover, it can be done in the comfort of one’s home and requires little to no equipment. Also, yoga is a perfect way to protect overall health including heart health for many people who aren’t physically able to do some other types of exercises.
Other benefits of yoga
Yoga is a practice of connecting mind, body and soul through series of postures. Together with scientifically proven benefits for heart health, yoga can also:
- Improve your flexibility
- Build muscle strength
- Improve your posture
- Strengthen your joints and bones
- Protect your spine
- Improve blood circulation
- Improve your immunity
- Improve your mood
- Help you focus
- Maintain the nervous system
- Help you establish adequate sleep pattern
- Relieve the pain etc.
Improving your heart health
Yoga or aerobic exercise is just one way to improve the health of your heart. Here is what else you can do:
- Know the level of HDL (good cholesterol), LDL (bad cholesterol), total cholesterol, blood pressure and other details. Only when you know all the numbers you can work towards improving them by adding healthy foods that decrease cholesterol and by adopting healthy routine.
- Reduce stress and avoid stressful situations
- Quit smoking and drinking too much alcohol. A glass of wine during dinner is known for beneficial impact on our heart. Keep it moderate! In this case more is not merrier and excessive consumption of alcohol could damage your heart then.
- Avoid salty, sugary and fast foods.
- Get enough sleep.
- Be active.
- Eat foods rich in vitamins, nutrients, and minerals that will empower your heart. Additionally, make sure you eat a lot of fish and seafood as your body, including your heart, needs Omega 3 fatty acids to function properly.
Video Title: Top Health Benefits of Omega 3 You Should Not Miss
A healthy heart requires physical activity. If you aren’t able to do aerobic exercises or simply prefer practicing yoga then you should know it has the same effect on your heart health as other types of exercise.
About the Author:
Elena Shephard (@ElenaShephard) who lives in New York, Albany, USA. She is an independent researcher by profession who loves reading latest lifestyle news, writing and hanging around with friends. In her spare time, she enjoys doing research and write certain health and beauty related articles for online websites, journals, etc. The best part of her job is generating awareness about the many remedial factors one can carry out from his/her daily life practices, with the help of her writing skills.