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“Yoga may provide the same benefits in risk-factor reduction as traditional physical activity such as cycling or brisk walking.”

What Research Tells Us:

Research suggests that Yoga could be as effective as cycling or brisk walks in reducing the risk of a heart attack or stroke.

The study involving 2,768 people, looked into whether yoga can be beneficial for heart health. Research, published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, finds that the ease and low cost of doing yoga mean it could be a very useful tool in reducing heart-related illness (which kills 160,000 people a year in the UK – about one in four of all deaths).

“This review helps strengthen the evidence base for yoga as a potentially effective therapy for cardiovascular and metabolic health,” say the authors, who are from the Netherlands and the US.

“This finding is significant as individuals who cannot or prefer not to perform traditional aerobic exercise might still achieve similar benefits in CVD risk reduction.”

When those who did yoga were compared to those who took no exercise, the former were found to enjoy significant improvement in their body mass index, systolic blood pressure and levels of LDL (“bad” cholesterol), as well as higher levels of HDL (“good” cholesterol).

“We believe these findings have important implications for the acceptance of yoga as an effective therapeutic intervention. This review demonstrates the potential of yoga to have an impact on concrete, physiological outcomes that represent some of the greatest health burdens today”, the paper says.

The British Heart Foundation

The British Heart Foundation, said the findings showed yoga producing real benefits and that any form of physical activity that reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease should be encouraged.

“This study’s findings are promising, showing real improvement in blood pressure, cholesterol and weight, which are risk factors for cardiovascular disease,” said Maureen Talbot, a senior cardiac nurse with the charity.