How Your Hot Yoga Class Can Help Your Heart
Three hot yoga classes weekly for 12 weeks significantly lowered blood pressure in people with stage 1 hypertension, preliminary research presented at the American Heart Association’s Hypertension Scientific Sessions found.
Experts believe it is a combination of the heat as well as the breathing and flexibility moves that is responsible for this effect.
It’s not the yoga practice alone—or even the heat by itself—that seems to lower blood pressure, but the unique combination of them. Unlike other types of fitness done in the heat, like a summer bootcamp class, yoga emphasizes breathing exercises and flexibility, as well as isometric contractions. When combined with heat exposure, it intensifies the advantages of each.
Stacy Hunter, Ph.D., an assistant professor and director of the cardiovascular physiology lab at Texas State University
You’re looking down at a not-inconsiderable puddle of sweat, trying to breathe, holding a pose that seems way too long and you start to wonder: Is hot yoga actually any better than non-Hades yoga?
According to a preliminary research presented at the American Heart Association’s Hypertension Scientific Sessions, it’s certainly a big plus for your blood vessels—even if it’s tough on your yoga mat.
Standard, room-temperature yoga has been linked to better blood pressure effects in previous research, but this is one of the few studies to look at hot yoga specifically.
Researchers recruited 10 men and women, between the ages of 20 to 65, all with either elevated blood pressure or stage 1 hypertension. The participants were not taking any blood pressure medication and had not engaged in regular fitness activity for at least six months prior to the study timeframe.
Five participants were assigned to take 12 weeks of hot yoga classes, three times weekly for at least an hour per session, in a room at 105 degrees Fahrenheit. The other five were a control group, and did not do yoga at all, hot or otherwise.
At the end of the three months, systolic blood pressure for the yoga group had dropped from an average 126 mmHg to 121 mmHg. Average diastolic pressure also decreased, from 82 mmHg to 79 mmHg. Blood pressure didn’t change in the control group.
Although this is preliminary research and also a very small sample size, researchers found the results promising, said lead study author Stacy Hunter, Ph.D., an assistant professor and director of the cardiovascular physiology lab at Texas State University.
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Article source: Runners World Magazine