Aerobic exercise is one of the most influential tools to help offset heart disease as well as a plethora of other chronic diseases. But for some seniors or people with limited mobility, this can be a challenge. A new study has found that practicing yoga can offer comparable health benefits to aerobic exercise, particularly when it comes to improving blood pressure and cholesterol.
The study found that people who practiced varying styles of the ancient mind-body practice cut five points from their blood pressure and around 12 points from their LDL (bad) cholesterol on average. They also dropped about five pounds in the process. These results came from a culmination of 37 separate clinical trials that included different types of yoga, a wide range of participant ages and varying frequency of yoga sessions.
Yoga can also be useful after a heart attack
Many of my patients have incorporated yoga into a heart healthy lifestyle. As a part of cardiac rehabilitation after cardiac surgery, yoga has helped improve the overall quality of life for many people of varying ages and medical conditions.
Regular cardiovascular exercise is the optimal and recommended form of exercise for preventing obesity and lessening risk for heart disease. But yoga can be a secondary alternative, in some cases. While it has been common knowledge that practicing yoga is beneficial for overall health, these newer findings about the heart-health benefits are encouraging. The benefits of this exercise may do more than just getting the blood pumping; it can also help lessen stress and lower blood pressure, two additional contributing factors to heart disease.
A final word of caution─ there are several different yoga styles ranging from anusara and ashtanga to hot yoga and hatha. Some forms focus on gentle stretching and relaxation while others can be strenuous and require significant flexibility. Do some research prior to attending a class and be sure to check with your doctor before beginning any new exercise regimen, particularly if you have existing cardiovascular issues or other chronic medical conditions.
More hospitals offer comprehensive heart health services in one location
The Gloria Saker Women’s Heart Program at CentraState Medical Center is managed by a female team of experienced cardiologists and clinicians providing the latest preventative, diagnostic, treatment and rehabilitation services. The program specializes in identifying and helping women at higher risk for cardiovascular disease to optimize their health. Conveniently located under one roof, the site offers comprehensive services and amenities including a private meditation room suitable for practicing yoga. Patients may request an appointment by calling (732) 637-6366.
Divya Menon, MD is a board-certified cardiologist at CentraState Medical Center. She may be reached at Heart Specialists of Central Jersey by calling (732) 866-0800.