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Adding yoga to exercise routine reduces heart disease risk

“Our study shows that structured yoga practices can be a healthier addition to aerobic exercise than simply muscle stretching.”

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Young adult happy fit slim healthy African American ethnic woman wearing sportswear stretching sitting in yoga pose on mat at home in bedroom, doing fitness morning workout exercises training.
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By Alice Clifford via SWNS

Adding yoga to a regular exercise routine can reduce the risk of heart disease, according to new research.

The study reveals that the discipline, which originated in ancient India, is much more than just muscle stretching.

Researchers found that yoga can lower blood pressure, resting heart rate and improve 10-year cardiovascular risk.

Millions of people worldwide take up yoga as part of their physical and spiritual exercise routine.

Dr. Paul Poirier, from Laval University’s Quebec Heart and Lung Institute and Faculty of Pharmacy, and lead investigator of the study, said: “The aim of this pilot study was to determine whether the addition of yoga to a regular exercise training regimen reduces cardiovascular risk.

“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.”

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With yoga practice becoming a widely accepted form of exercise, the body of yoga research is growing.

The researchers recruited 60 people who had previously been diagnosed with high blood pressure and metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome is the combination of high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.

Each participant was enrolled into a three-month exercise training program.

The participants were split into two groups. Each group took part in 15 minutes of either structured yoga or stretching and 30 minutes of aerobic exercise five times a week.

Blood pressure, physical size and form, high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, and glucose and lipids levels were all measured.

The researchers also took Framingham and Reynolds Risk Scores.

Both these scores predict a person’s risk of having a heart attack or other major cardiovascular problems.

Poirier said: “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.

“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.”

The study was published by Elsevier in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology.

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