Combining Yoga With Regular Exercise Enhances Heart Health and Well-Being

“This pilot study aimed to determine whether the addition of yoga to a regular exercise training regimen reduces cardiovascular risk,” explained lead investigator Paul Poirier, M.D., Ph.D., Quebec Heart and Lung Institute- Laval University, and Faculty of Pharmacy, Laval University, Quebec, Canada. “While there is some evidence that yoga interventions and exercise have equal and/or superior cardiovascular outcomes, there is considerable variability in yoga types, components, frequency, session length, duration, and intensity. We sought to apply a rigorous scientific approach to identify cardiovascular risk factors for which yoga is beneficial for at-risk patients and ways it could be applied in a healthcare setting such as a primary prevention program.”

The researchers included 60 people with previously identified high blood pressure and metabolic syndrome in an exercise training program. For three months, individuals were divided into two groups, each of which completed 15 minutes of structured yoga or stretching in addition to 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise training five days each week. Blood pressure, anthropometry, hs-CRP, glucose, and lipid levels, as well as the Framingham and Reynolds Risk Scores, were all measured. At baseline, there was no difference in age, gender, smoking rates, body mass index (BMI), resting systolic and diastolic blood pressure, resting heart rate, or pulse pressure across groups.


Yoga with Regular Exercise Reduces Blood Pressure

Both groups experienced a drop in resting systolic and diastolic blood pressure, mean arterial blood pressure, and heart rate after three months. However, yoga reduced systolic blood pressure by 10 mmHg compared to stretching by 4 mmHg. The yoga method also reduced resting heart rate and 10-year cardiovascular risk, as measured by Reynold’s Risk score.

While yoga has been found to help hypertension individuals, the exact mechanism underlying this beneficial effect is unknown. This pilot randomized trial demonstrates that its advantages cannot be attributed solely to stretching.

Lifestyle Modification for Cardiovascular Risk Reduction and Blood Pressure Control

“This study provides evidence for an additional non-pharmacologic therapy option for cardiovascular risk reduction and blood pressure control in patients with high blood pressure, in the setting of a primary prevention exercise program,” noted Dr. Poirier. “As observed in several studies, we recommend that patients try to find exercise and stress relief for the management of hypertension and cardiovascular disease in whatever form they find most appealing. Our study shows that structured yoga practices can be a healthier addition to aerobic exercise than simply muscle stretching.”

Source: Medindia

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