Practicing Yoga Benefits Your Heart

Adding to the list of the many benefits of yoga, a large review of 37 studies with 2,768 subjects, shows that yoga also benefits your heart.  Regular yoga practice may reduce heart disease risks as effectively as brisk walking or biking.  Researchers from Harvard University in Boston Massachusetts and Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, conducted the review.

Review results showed that those who practiced yoga were able to impact each of the primary heart disease risk factors—lower blood pressure, reduced BMI, lower LDL cholesterol and higher HDL cholesterol levels.  The only risk factor that was unaffected by yoga practice was blood sugar levels.  Yoga also provided significant benefits for those who practiced it together with medication treatment for a specific condition, such as high blood pressure.

We don’t know yet how many minutes you need to practice, or how days per week to enjoy these benefits, but in the meantime, it’s worth practicing when you can.  “Although evidence of yoga’s beneficial effect in cardiovascular health is growing, a physiological explanation for this effect remains unclear.  Also unclear are the dose-response relationship and the relative costs and benefits of yoga when compared to exercise or medication.  However, these results indicate that yoga is potentially very useful and…worth pursuing as a risk improvement practice.” said senior study author, Myriam Hunink, PhD, from Erasmus University Medical Center in a European Society of Cardiology news release.

The study is available in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology (2014).