This finding comes a three-month pilot study of people with hypertension. The study sought to determine if adding yoga to a regular exercise regimen could lower risk factors for cardiovascular issues, such as coronary heart disease, and found that it did, in fact, help reduce blood pressure, resting heart rate and cardiovascular risk factors.
Study: Yoga and Heart Health
This study, published in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology, examined 60 people diagnosed with hypertension and randomly assigned them to an aerobic exercise training program in addition to either a yoga regimen or a standard stretching regimen. One group did 30 minutes of a regular aerobic routine and 15 minutes of yoga five days a week, while the other did 30 minutes of aerobics and 15 minutes of stretching five days a week. The study was performed over three months.
The researchers looked at several important heart disease risk factors, including:
- blood pressure
- high-sensitivity C-reactive protein
- lipid levels
- Framingham and Reynolds Risk Scores
After the three-month study, the authors concluded, “In patients with hypertension, the practice of yoga incorporated in a 3-month exercise training program was associated with greater improvement in resting blood pressure and heart rate and Reynolds Risk Score compared with stretching.”
However, they also cautioned, “While yoga has been shown to benefit hypertensive patients, the exact mechanism underlying this positive effect is not fully understood. This pilot randomized study shows that its benefits cannot be simply attributed to stretching alone.”
“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,” added lead investigator Paul Poirier, MD, Ph.D., Quebec Heart and Lung Institute – Laval University, and Faculty of Pharmacy, Laval University, Quebec, Canada. “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.”
Other Ways to Protect the Heart
As this study shows, adding yoga to a regular exercise routine is a great way to protect heart health and enhance overall well-being. There are many other ways to support your heart and lower risk factors for cardiovascular disease as well, including the following.
1. Consume More Heart-Healthy Foods
Some of the best heart-healthy foods include oats, salmon, whole grains, walnuts, leafy greens, avocado and berries.
2. Avoid Inflammatory Foods
Some of the worst foods that cause inflammation include fried foods, processed meat, alcohol, refined carbs, artificial sweeteners, vegetable oils and high-fructose corn syrup.
3. Use Heart-Healthy Supplements
Try adding supplements like omega-3 fish oil, curcumin and garlic supplements, CoQ10, carotenoids, selenium, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E and glucosamine.
4. Manage Stress
Natural stress relievers like meditation, acupuncture, exercise, spending time in nature, keeping a journal, adaptogen herbs, essential oils, breathing exercises and more can help keep blood pressure in check.
Other tips for reducing your risk for hear disease include: