A report recently published in the European Journal of Preventative Cardiology details how yoga is just as effective as more strenuous activities such as aerobics and cycling at cutting risks of heart disease. And due to its low impact profile, it is seen as more accessible to those with heart conditions.
In the UK alone, from where the report was based, heart disease is responsible for around 82,000 deaths annually, with almost one in five men and one in eight women dying from the condition.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the term used for heart, stroke and blood vessel diseases. It’s the leading cause of death in Australia, with 45,600 deaths in 2011. Despite recent improvements, it remains one of the biggest burdens on our economy. CVD affects more than 3.7 million Australians.
The European Society of Cardiology report reviewed 37 trials involving 2,768 people and measured the benefits of yoga compared with exercise and no physical activity.
It found that when compared to no exercise, yoga reduced body mass index (BMI), lowered blood pressure, reduced cholesterol and that, on average, those tested were 2.75kg lighter than those who did no exercise.
‘Any physical activity that can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease developing should be encouraged, and the benefits of yoga are well established,’ said Maureen Talbot, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation.
‘This study’s findings are promising, showing improvement in blood pressure, cholesterol and weight, which are risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
‘The benefits could be due to working the muscles and breathing, which can bring more oxygen into the body, leading to lower blood pressure.’
Yoga is seen as a cost-effective treatment and prevention strategy given its low cost set-up and the lack of need for equipment and technology.
Its now well-documented benefits in areas such as mental health and diseases of old age are persuading increasing numbers of spas, salons and clinics, health clubs and gyms to offer it on their programs as well as for targeting the younger and healthier audience seeking to maintain wellbeing, fitness levels and manage their weight.