Physical Activity for Heart Health
Exercise that revs up your heart rate isn’t the only kind of physical activity that can help prevent or manage heart disease. The calming exercise of yoga is good for the heart too. “A large number of studies show that yoga benefits many aspects of cardiovascular health,” says Hugh Calkins, M.D., director of the Cardiac Arrhythmia Service at Johns Hopkins.
Yoga is a mind-body activity that involves moving through a series of body poses and breathing exercises that can improve:
- Balance; and
Yoga is a great stress outlet. One of yoga’s clearest benefits to the heart is its ability to relax the body and mind. Emotional stress can cause a cascade of physical effects, including the release of hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, which narrow your arteries and increase blood pressure. The deep breathing and mental focus of yoga can offset this stress. Beyond off-loading stress, practicing yoga may help lower:
- Blood pressure;
- Blood cholesterol;
- Blood glucose levels; and
- Heart rate.
Make yoga a useful lifestyle intervention. One study has shown that blood measurements and waist circumference a marker for heart disease, improved in middle-aged adults with metabolic syndrome who practiced yoga for three months. As part of an overall treatment plan, yoga can help you manage this stress.
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