Yoga may improve cardiovascular and metabolic health

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS

namasteYoga has been around for centuries, with writings extolling its virtues in producing serenity and transcendence – but world leaders, as well as a growing collection of scientific research, are pointing to how the ancient practice also can be good for your health.

The United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution commemorating June 21 as International Day of Yoga. Cosponsored by more than 170 member states, representatives said yoga not only promotes “clarity of vision and action” but health.

“Yoga can contribute to resilience against non-communicable diseases. Yoga can bring communities together in an inclusive manner that generates respect,” U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told the news agency Reuters at the time of the resolution in December. “Yoga is a sport that can contribute to development and peace. Yoga can even help people in emergency situations to find relief from stress.”

A recent review of 37 randomized controlled trials concluded that yoga may improve cardiovascular and metabolic health, according to researchers at Harvard University and its Schools of Medicine and Public Health and Erasmus University Medical Center in the Netherlands. The study was published in December in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.

The research paper said “yoga showed significant improvement” for body mass index, systolic blood pressure, low-density lipoprotein (also called “bad”) cholesterol and high-density lipoprotein (also called “good”) cholesterol compared to those who did not exercise. The study noted “significant changes” in heart rate, body weight and diastolic blood pressure, as well.

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