According to a three-month pilot research of people with hypertension published by Elsevier in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology, yoga is more advantageous than stretching activities for enhancing cardiovascular health and wellness. Yoga lowered resting heart rate and systolic blood pressure, which decreased 10-year cardiovascular risk.
Yoga is a part of the spiritual and physical habits of millions of people throughout the world. As yoga becomes a more widely practised form of exercise, study into the subject is growing. It is a versatile kind of exercise that can improve overall health and cardiovascular fitness. While there are many similarities between stretching exercises and the physical practises of yoga, there are also notable differences.
“The aim of this pilot study was to determine whether the addition of yoga to a regular exercise training regimen reduces cardiovascular risk,” explained lead investigator Paul Poirier, MD, PhD, Quebec Heart and Lung Institute – Laval University, and Faculty of Pharmacy, Laval University, Quebec, Canada.
“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.”
For an exercise training programme, researchers included 60 people with metabolic syndrome and previously confirmed high blood pressure. Participants were split into two groups for the duration of the three-month intervention programme, and each group engaged in 15 minutes of organised yoga or stretching in addition to five sessions of 30 minutes of aerobic activity.
The Framingham and Reynolds Risk Scores, anthropometry, high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP), glucose, and cholesterol levels, as well as blood pressure, were all assessed. Age, sex, smoking rates, body mass index (BMI), resting systolic and diastolic blood pressure, resting heart rate, and pulse pressure did not differ across groups at the beginning of the study.
Both groups’ resting systolic and diastolic blood pressure, mean arterial blood pressure, and heart rates decreased after 3 months. Stretching only decreased systolic blood pressure by 4 mmHg, whereas yoga reduced it by 10 mmHg. Additionally, the yoga method decreased the 10-year cardiovascular risk score and resting heart rate.
Yoga has been demonstrated to help hypertension patients, although the precise mechanism by which it does so is still unclear. This pilot randomised trial demonstrates that stretching alone cannot account for all of its positive effects.
“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,” noted Dr Poirier.
“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.”