Most people associate intense cardio with heart health, but other forms of exercise and mindfulness techniques also have benefits. Studies have shown that yoga improves cholesterol levels and lowers blood pressure, and a recent statement in the Journal of the American Heart Association suggested that meditation could improve a range of factors related to cardiovascular health, including stress levels, blood pressure, and more.
Yoga comes in many forms and usually involves a series of poses and breathing exercises that help practitioners improve flexibility, strength, balance, and relaxation. An article in the European Journal of Preventative Cardiology reviewed 37 randomized controlled trials involving different forms of yoga and found that doing yoga improved blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and body mass index; all three of these factors are significantly related to heart health as well as overall health and wellbeing. Additionally, a recent review showed that practicing yoga is beneficial for patients with heart arrhythmias. The video below -from an accredited hospital- shows four quick yoga poses related to heart health.
In addition to the benefits of yoga, a scientific statement released by the American Heart Association (AHA) reviewed the data on the impact of meditation on heart disease risk. While studies in this area have been somewhat limited, the AHA found that meditation may improve many factors related to heart disease risk, including blood pressure, stress response, and smoking cessation. Some clinicians have further suggested that meditation improves life outlook, which could motivate patients to partake in more heart-healthy habits like dieting, exercising, and getting enough sleep. Given the potential benefits combined with the low risk and cost, the AHA recommends meditation as an addition to established guidelines for improving cardiovascular risk.
Mindfulness has been associated with lowered risks of depression and anxiety in many studies, and stress reduction is more important than ever for your physical and mental health as the COVID-19 pandemic drags on. If you are looking for ways to improve your heart and overall health, yoga and mindfulness may be a good place to start.