Adverse to aerobics? A Harvard University study suggests Yoga may have the same cardiovascular perks

Yoga for heart health

Getting fit and keeping your heart healthy doesn't have to mean running laps of the park – yoga may be as good for your heart as aerobic exercise, a Harvard University study suggests.

Researchers from the US and the Netherlands looked at 37 clinical trials on the effects of yoga, and found that downward dogs and sun salutations may well play a positive role in reducing cardiovascular risk factors (like blood pressure, cholesterol and BMI), similar to the effect of cycling, brisk walking or other aerobic activities.

It's encouraging news for older people, those with health challenges, or those who simply feel daunted by more vigorous types of exercise. "This finding is significant, as individuals who cannot or prefer not to perform traditional aerobic exercise might still achieve similar benefits in (cardiovascular) risk reduction," the authors, lead by Paula Chu, a doctoral candidate in health policy at Harvard University, say.

"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."

Plus, yoga’s focus on the mind is a great way to relax, reduce tension and improve your mental health – so there are plenty more reasons to get into that warrior pose. Ready to get started? Find out the best type of yoga for you.

Read the full report in the European Journal of Preventative Cardiology.

Learn more about the benefits of yoga and how to start your own routine.

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