Yoga supports cardiovascular health and is more effective than stretching exercises. Researchers from Laval University in Canada came to this conclusion after a three-month pilot study of patients with hypertension. The findings were published in the scientific journal Canadian Journal of Cardiology.
Researchers recruited 60 people with previously diagnosed high blood pressure and metabolic syndrome to participate in a physical exercise program. During the 3-month intervention regimen, participants were divided into 2 groups that performed 15 minutes of structured yoga or stretching in addition to 30 minutes of aerobic exercise 5 times a week.
Blood pressure, anthropometry, C-reactive protein (CRP), glucose, and lipid levels were analyzed in the participants. In addition, parameters such as sex, smoking, body mass index (BMI), resting systolic and diastolic blood pressure, resting heart rate, and pulse pressure were analyzed, and a Reynolds cardiovascular risk assessment was performed.
After 3 months, both groups showed decreases in systolic and diastolic resting blood pressure, mean arterial pressure, and heart rate. However, systolic blood pressure was reduced by 10 mmHg in the yoga group versus 4 mmHg in the stretching group. Yoga also helped reduce resting heart rate and 10-year cardiovascular risk.
Although yoga has been shown to benefit patients with hypertension, the exact mechanism underlying this positive effect is not fully understood.
As has been noted in several studies, patients are recommended to try to pick exercise and stress reduction for hypertension and cardiovascular disease in the form that seems most appealing to them. The study shows that structured yoga practices may be a healthier complement to aerobic exercise than just muscle stretching, explained study author Paul Poirier.