Another Reason To Try Yoga: It Can Strengthen The Heart

You’ve probably added yoga on your resolutions list, but are still daunted by the complicated poses and the hefty yoga class fees. Fortunately, these recent findings from Harvard might give you the encouragement you need to say yes to yoga in 2015.

Yoga isn’t just for improved flexibility anymore. Recent studies reveal that yoga may actually be very beneficial for the cardiovascular system, according to a report by Reuters. Researchers from Harvard University found out that yoga can improve cardiovascular functions and lower blood pressure. It can also help prevent heart ailments and lessen cholesterol, according to the study’s intriguing results.

Researchers based their conclusions on 37 clinical trials, where they observed first-hand the beneficial effects of yoga on the heart. What surprised scientists during their observations is that yoga proved to be just as effective as aerobics in keeping the heart healthy and strong.

Paula Chu, a PhD candidate in health policy and one of the authors of the study, says the combination of benefits of yoga on the heart can immensely improve the overall health of a person.

She said, “Taken together, these improvements could facilitate and complement a regimen toward better cardiovascular health.”

Some experts have already expected the beneficial effects of yoga on the cardiovascular system. New York cardiologist Larry Phillips, who was not involved with the study, gives his insights on the results.

“I think what we’ve seen is with yoga and the relaxation and behavior modification that goes along with it, there is a benefit to all patients, but especially those with heart disease,” Phillips said.

Not only does yoga help strengthen the heart, it can also be very beneficial for young people who are constantly bombarded with stress. Poughkeepskie Journal’s Dr. Kimberly Clare encourages youngsters — especially those affected by social and academic stress — to join yoga classes, which can prove effective in alleviating anxious and depressive moods brought about by strenuous activities.

Yoga’s popularity in the United States has never been higher. Recent statistics claim that at least 15 million Americans have tried yoga at least once, according to Chu and her associates. The Huffington Post reports last year that the yoga industry in the United States is valued at a whopping $27 billion.

The practice of yoga started 5,000 years ago as a form of physical and mental meditation. For the longest time, yoga was exclusively a religious practice inspired by Hindu philosophy until the 1980s, when the United States began embracing the art. Just a few years later, yoga evolved into one of the most popular physical exercises in America.

The Harvard study is published in the science journal European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.

[Image from Matt Madd/Flickr]