Yoga has become popular as a form of physical exercise, meant to promote self- control and wellbeing. Rooted in ancient Indian mind-body practices, yoga ties together stretches, meditation, and breathing techniques to relax, control, and strengthen participants mentally and physically. Studies show that yoga effectively improves cardiovascular risk factors, and reduces incidences of heart attacks and strokes.

Researchers from the US and Netherlands recently reviewed 37 randomized controlled trials for 2,768 subjects concerning yoga’s benefits to cardiovascular health. The analysis investigated how yoga may be beneficial in managing and improving cardiovascular disease to determine whether it could be an worthy cardiovascular health therapy.

Results revealed that yoga’s effect on risks factors were similar to that of exercise. Yoga was shown to significantly improve health when compared to subjects who did not exercise at all.

Health benefits include:

  • Reduced body mass index (BMI).

  • Reduced systolic blood pressure.

  • Reduced low-density (bad) lipoprotein cholesterol.

  • Increased high-density (good) lipoprotein cholesterol.

Significant changes were also observed:

  • Decreased body weight.

  • Reduced diastolic blood pressure.

  • Reduced total cholesterol.

  • Lowered heart rate.

Because these finding appear to indicate that yoga is as beneficial as brisk walking or biking, people who need to exercise, but are unable to participate in aerobic forms, have another means to achieve cardiovascular fitness.

Researchers are also careful to note, "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.

All in all, the authors of the research affirm yoga’s potential for a wide variety of patient types and abilities.

"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.

Read the full article here: Yoga comparable with walking, biking to improve cardiovascular risk – Medical News Today