A recent study on the benefits of yoga for heart health, featured in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology, has found that incorporating yoga into a regular exercise routine can improve cardiovascular health and wellbeing in patients with hypertension, surpassing the benefits of stretching exercises alone.
The three-month study determined that adding yoga led to reductions in systolic blood pressure and resting heart rate, as well as improvements in 10-year cardiovascular risk.
Practiced by millions globally, yoga is a multifaceted lifestyle activity that continues to gain recognition for its potential to positively impact cardiovascular health. Though similar in some respects to physical exercises like stretching, yoga’s unique attributes differentiate it from other forms of exercise.
Aim and Methodology of the Study
Lead investigator Dr. Paul Poirier of the Quebec Heart and Lung Institute – Laval University and Faculty of Pharmacy, Laval University, Quebec, Canada, sought to determine whether incorporating yoga into regular exercise could reduce cardiovascular risk.
The study attempted to account for the considerable variability in yoga types, components, frequency, session length, duration, and intensity by applying a rigorous scientific approach.
For the study, 60 individuals with previously diagnosed high blood pressure and metabolic syndrome were enrolled in an exercise training program.
Over three months, participants were divided into two groups, with one performing 15 minutes of structured yoga and the other engaging in 15 minutes of stretching, in addition to 30 minutes of aerobic exercise training five times weekly.
Various cardiovascular risk factors were measured, including blood pressure, anthropometry, high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP), glucose and lipids levels, and Framingham and Reynolds Risk Scores.
Yoga for Heart Health: Results and Implications of the Study
Both groups experienced reductions in resting systolic and diastolic blood pressure, mean arterial blood pressure, and heart rate after three months.
However, the yoga group saw a 10 mmHg reduction in systolic blood pressure compared to a 4 mmHg reduction in the stretching group.
The yoga intervention also led to decreased resting heart rates and a reduced 10-year cardiovascular risk as assessed by the Reynolds Risk Score.
Although yoga’s benefits for hypertensive patients have been established, the precise mechanism underlying these effects remains unclear.
This pilot study suggests that yoga’s advantages cannot be solely attributed to stretching.
Dr. Poirier believes the findings indicate that structured yoga practices can serve as a healthier addition to aerobic exercise than mere muscle stretching for managing hypertension and cardiovascular disease.
He encourages patients to find the exercise and stress-relief methods that best suit them in order to achieve better blood pressure control and cardiovascular risk reduction.
Study Title: Impact of Yoga on Global Cardiovascular Risk as an Add-On to a Regular Exercise Regimen in Patients With Hypertension
- Ashok Pandey
- Avinash Pandey, MD
- A. Shekhar Pandey, MD
- Alis Bonsignore, PhD
- Audrey Auclair, PhD
- Paul Poirier, MD, PhD
Published: December 07, 2022 | DOI: 10.1016/j.cjca.2022.09.019
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