Looking reduce your risk of heart disease? The solution could be doing one of the best exercise recommended by researchers.
In a study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, they say that yoga, an ancient practice originating from India, significantly decreased risk factors associated with heart disease. Now they suggest yoga has the potential to be a “cost-effective prevention strategy.”
Researchers initially made this discovery after analyzing 37 studies involving more than 2,700 people, called a meta-analysis.
“Yoga, a popular mind-body practice, may produce changes in cardiovascular disease (CVD) and metabolic syndrome risk factors,” write researchers write in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology’s website. “Compared to non-exercise controls, yoga showed significant improvement for body mass index, systolic blood pressure, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. There is promising evidence of yoga on improving cardio-metabolic health.”
For the study, researchers looked at how yoga affected certain health risks associated with heart disease, such as a high body mass index (BMI), high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Compared to other types of exercise, such as running, researchers found that yoga consistently decreased all of these risk factors, reducing the risk of heart disease. In addition, they found that those with heart disease who practiced yoga also reaped other benefits as well, such as lower LDL, or bad, cholesterol.
Researchers say that the effects are comparable to aerobic exercise.
“[These findings] suggest that there could be comparable working mechanisms, with some possible physiological aerobic benefits occurring with yoga practice, and some stress-reducing, relaxation effect occurring with aerobic exercise,” write researchers. “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.”
However, the reason why yoga helps reduce these risk factors is unclear. According to senior author Professor Myriam Hunink, who conducts research at the Erasmus University Medical Center, researchers have still been unable to pinpoint an exact cause, though many believe it is stress-based. Regardless of the reason, however, this study continues to prove that yoga continues to be good for the heart.
So if you’re looking for an easy way to reduce your risk of heart disease, try some yoga–not only is it relaxing, it could strengthen your heart too.