Doing just 15 minutes of this exercise can significantly lower your blood pressure, and potentially save your life, research has found.
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a major risk factor for chronic conditions including heart attack, stroke, coronary heart disease, heart failure and chronic kidney disease.
As blood is pumped around the body, the pressure with which it pushes against the walls of blood vessels changes.
When the heart is pumping blood into the arteries, the pressure is higher. When the heart is relaxed, the pressure is lower. Your blood pressure is a measure of the highest and lowest readings and given as two figures: highest (systolic) over lowest (diastolic).
According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), just over five per cent of the total disease burden can be attributed to high blood pressure.
The potential causes of hypertension are numerous, but for most people, it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact reasons.
It’s usually some combination of a sedentary lifestyle (meaning little or no exercise), smoking, being overweight, a high-salt diet, high blood cholesterol levels, high alcohol consumption and a family history of hypertension.
Many of these factors can be corrected by simple lifestyle changes.
Now, a study published in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology says that performing as little as 15 minutes of yoga each day may be an effective way to control your blood pressure.
The study involved 60 participants who had been diagnosed with hypertension, divided into two groups at random. Both groups were instructed to complete a daily aerobic exercise program.
In addition to the aerobic session, one group was instructed to do 15 minutes of light stretching, while the other group did a 15-minute yoga session.
While both groups saw improvement in resting blood pressure and heart rate, the group that did yoga saw a more significant improvement in blood pressure, heart rate and CVD risk scores.
The results indicate that yoga could be an effective add-on intervention to help improve blood pressure levels.
Dr Paul Poirier, lead author of the study, cautioned against drawing too many conclusions from such a small sample size, but told Medical News Today that yoga has a number of health advantages over just stretching alone.
“Yoga is probably a better alternative after exercise training than stretching because there’s an add-on effect of yoga compared to stretching,” he said.
“The add-on effect is blood pressure, heart rate and inflammation [improvement]…This study will probably stimulate others to do bigger studies with different populations, and if the science adds up in the same way, then practice could be changed.”
Have you ever tried yoga? Do you think it could help you? Let us know in the comments section below.