As well as calming the mind, increasing the body’s flexibility and strengthening muscle tone, a new study has found that yoga can also reduce high blood pressure.
The study was carried out by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, U.S. and led by Dr Debbie Cohen.
The researchers tracked 58 men and women aged 38-62 for six months. Participants took part in two to three yoga classes a week while having their blood pressure monitored. One control group was asked to follow a healthy diet but not take yoga classes and another took yoga classes and followed a healthy diet.
The results showed that yoga caused an average drop in blood pressure from 133/80 to 130/77, while the healthy diet group experienced a less significant drop of 134/83 to 132/82.
Contrary to the researcher’s expectations, the group who followed a healthy diet and took yoga classes too did not outperform the people who did yoga but didn’t adopt a healthier diet. They only experienced a blood pressure drop of 135/83 to 134/81. Researchers reasoned that the people doing yoga and following the diet were experiencing more of a lifestyle change and therefore may have found it difficult to keep the regime up, which would explain why their blood pressure didn’t improve.
Dr Howard Weintraub, a cardiologist and associate professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City believes exercise in general is a good way to control blood pressure and that yoga may have some significant long-term benefits for health.
Dr David Friedman, chief of Heart Failure Services at the North Shore-LIJ Plainview Hospital said: "Yoga, along with deep breathing exercises, meditation and inner reflection, is a good adjunctive and integrative cardiovascular approach to better health, including lowering blood pressure, as this data suggests.”
He advises his patients to spend time finding ‘disciplined inner peace’ alongside aerobic exercise and a proper diet.
The findings were presented in May at the annual scientific meeting of the American Society of Hypertension, in San Francisco.
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