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It’s always been known to relax the mind and body, and now there is proof that it will reduce your risk to get cardiovascular disease. Following a systematic review of 37 randomized controlled trials(which included 2768 subjects), investigators from the Netherlands and USA have found that yoga may provide the same benefits in risk factor reduction as such traditional physical activities as biking or brisk walking. Yoga, an ancient mind-body practice which originated in India and incorporates physical, mental, and spiritual elements, has been shown in several studies to be effective in improving cardiovascular risk factors, with reduction in the risk of heart attacks and strokes.”This finding is significant,” they note, “as individuals who cannot or prefer not to perform traditional aerobic exercise might still achieve similar benefits in [cardiovascular] risk reduction.” Their study is published today in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.
Yoga, an ancient mind-body practice which originated in India and incorporates physical, mental, and spiritual elements, has been shown in several studies to be effective in improving cardiovascular risk factors, with reduction in the risk of heart attacks and strokes. This meta-analysis was performed, say the investigators, to appraise the evidence and provide a realistic pooled estimate of yoga’s effectiveness when measured against exercise and no exercise.
Results showed first that risk factors for cardiovascular disease improved more in those doing yoga than in those doing no exercise, and second, that yoga had an effect on these risks comparable to exercise.
Among patients with existing coronary heart disease, yoga provided a statistically significant benefit in lowering LDL cholesterol when added to medication (statins and lipid-lowering drugs).
In comparisons with exercise itself, yoga was found to have comparable effects on risk factors as aerobic exercise. The investigators note that this might be because of yoga’s impact on stress reduction, “leading to positive impacts on neuroendocrine status, metabolic and cardio-vagal function.”
Also, in view of yoga’s ease of uptake, the investigators also note that evidence supports yoga’s acceptability to “patients with lower physical tolerance like those with pre-existing cardiac conditions, the elderly, or those with musculoskeletal or joint pain.”
Thus, they concluded that “yoga has the potential to be a cost-effective treatment and prevention strategy given its low cost, lack of expensive equipment or technology, potential greater adherence and health-related quality of life improvements, and possible accessibility to larger segments of the population.”
European Society of Cardiology. “Yoga has potential to reduce risk factors of cardiovascular disease.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 December 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/12/141215203049.htm>.