Doing yoga may be a good way to protect against heart disease, particularly if you cannot do more vigorous exercise, research published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology suggests.
A review 37 studies involving nearly 3,000 people found yoga was independently linked to a lowering of heart risk factors such as high blood pressure and cholesterol.
Yoga does not count towards the recommended physical activity that we should all do each week, but experts say it may still be beneficial.
There are lots of different types of yoga – tantric, Hatha and Ashtanga to name a few, but most are not strenuous enough to count towards the 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity the UK government says we should get each week to give our heart and lungs a workout.
Yoga does count as a muscle strengthening exercise however, something the same guidelines say we should do on two or more days a week, every week.
Prof Myriam Hunink, from Erasmus University Medical Centre in Rotterdam, set out to investigate what effect, if any, yoga might have on heart health.
Compared with no exercise, yoga had significant benefits and was linked to a lower risk of obesity, high blood pressure and raised cholesterol the study found.
When compared to other types of exercise, such as brisk walking or jogging, yoga was no better or worse based on the same measures of heart risk.
Prof Hunink said: “These results indicate that yoga is potentially very useful and in my view worth pursuing as a risk improvement practice.”
It is not clear why yoga might be beneficial, but experts say it could be down to its calming effect.
Stress has long been linked to heart disease and high blood pressure and it is thought yoga’s calming effect could be beneficial in relieving stress.
Source: BBC News