A small scale study conducted at the University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City has found that yoga is an effective way of reducing the risk of irregular heartbeat.
The research was intended to examine the benefits of yoga on atrial fibrillation, an issue which is common among the elderly and is the leading cause of stroke.
The study involved 49 participants suffering from heart rhythm disorder who had no previous experience of yoga. Their irregular heartbeat episodes were measured for a period of six months, during which they tried and tested various physical activities.
For the first three months the patients were allowed to participate in a physical activity of their choice, but for the remaining three months they were required to participate in a supervised yoga program which included various postures, meditation, relaxation and breathing exercises.
Yoga sessions were taken by a certified professional for 45 minutes three times a week. The participants were also encouraged to perform some of the exercises learnt in class at home.
Throughout the trial the participants were required to wear heart monitors so that the researchers could record any episodes of irregular heartbeats. In addition to this, the participants were also asked to complete a series of short surveys to assess anxiety and depression levels.
The results showed that yoga actually reduced incidents of irregular heartbeat by half, as well as significantly reducing depression and anxiety scores. In addition, researchers also saw improvements in general health, social function and mental health.
Experts have concluded that yoga could prove to be a low cost and effective method for treating atrial fibrillation and other heart rhythm problems, though larger studies are needed to add further weight to these findings.
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