A three-month pilot study by the Canadian Journal of Cardiology of patients with hypertension revealed that adding yoga to a regular exercise training regimen supports cardiovascular health and well-being, and is more effective than stretching exercises.
The study found that the incorporation of yoga reduced systolic blood pressure and resting heart rate, and improved 10 year cardiovascular risk. With yoga practice becoming a widely accepted form of exercise, the body of yoga research is continuing to grow.
Investigators recruited 60 participants with previously diagnosed high blood pressure and metabolic syndrome for an exercise training program. Over the three month period, individuals were divided into two groups, and each performed 15 minutes of either structured yoga or stretching, in addition to 30 minutes of aerobic exercise training five times weekly.
Blood pressure, anthropometry, high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP), glucose and lipids levels, as well as the Framingham and Reynolds Risk Scores were measured. There was no difference between groups in age, sex, smoking rates, body mass index (BMI), resting systolic and diastolic blood pressure, resting heart rate and pulse pressure.
After three months, there was a decrease in resting systolic and diastolic blood pressure, mean arterial blood pressure and heart rate in both groups. However, systolic blood pressure was reduced by yoga, compared to stretching. The yoga approach also reduced resting heart rate and 10 year cardiovascular risk assessed using Reynold's Risk score.
"This study provides evidence for an additional non-pharmacologic therapy option for cardiovascular risk reduction and blood pressure control in patients with high blood pressure, in the setting of a primary prevention exercise program," said Dr. Poirier. "As observed in several studies, we recommend that patients try to find exercise and stress relief for the management of hypertension and cardiovascular disease in whatever form they find most appealing. Our study shows that structured yoga practices can be a healthier addition to aerobic exercise than simply muscle stretching."