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Yoga benefits rival cycling

Cover Media logo Cover Media 25-04-2015
Yoga has tremendous benefits both mental and physical.  © Cover Media Yoga has tremendous benefits both mental and physical. 

The idea of getting all sweaty in a gym or heading out on a muddy cycle ride to get your heart racing doesn't appeal to everyone. And if that's the case for you, you're in luck, because new research has found that the gentle practice of yoga is as good for your heart as heading out on your bike.

An analysis of a number of studies into the impact of the ancient Eastern art concluded it has numerous health benefits. These include weight loss, lowering bad cholesterol and cutting blood pressure. The results were found to be on a par with people who carried out regular conventional exercise such as cycling or going for long walks.

While researchers aren't clear exactly why the peaceful exercise achieves similar results to more intense activities, they think it could be the combination of stretching the muscles and stress relief. The discovery is important because it suggests that those who are too old or unwell to do conventional exercise could practice yoga to keep their heart healthy.

"Yoga may provide the same benefits in risk factor reduction as traditional physical activity such as cycling or brisk walking," said researcher Myriam Hunink, from Erasmus University in the Netherlands and Harvard University in the US. "This finding is significant as individuals who cannot or prefer not to perform traditional aerobic exercise may still achieve similar benefits in cardiovascular disease risk reduction."

She added that yoga may improve quality of life more than other forms of exercise, by easing stress and anxiety.

Coronary heart disease is currently Britain’s biggest killer, with more than 70,000 deaths a year caused by heart attacks and other cardiac problems. Smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, being overweight and not exercising are some of the main risk factors.

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