In a new study, researchers found that yoga practice that emphasizes mental relaxation and breathing techniques can have a beneficial impact on high blood pressure.
The benefit is as much as that from aerobic exercise.
The research was conducted by the University of Connecticut.
In the study, the researchers ran a meta-regression analysis of 49 yoga studies done between 1983 and 2018.
These studies examined the specific characteristics of the participants, individual studies, and yoga techniques.
Results showed that yoga practice emphasizing mental relaxation and breathing techniques, along with physical movement, could reduce blood pressure best.
Among individuals with high blood pressure, a yoga practice that emphasized both mental relaxation and breathing techniques can result in blood pressure reductions as large as 11/6 mmHg.
This effect is equal to or higher than the effects reported for aerobic exercise training.
For yoga practices that did not emphasize breathing techniques and mental relaxation, blood pressure reductions were found to be 6/3 mmHg.
The study highlights the potential for yoga as an effective therapy to fight high blood pressure, particularly for patients unable or unwilling to perform aerobic exercise.
The researchers say that they are not telling people to use yoga to substitute for aerobic exercise.
Aerobic exercise is still the gold standard for anti-high-blood-pressure lifestyle therapy. But yoga provides an additional option that can be just as effective.
While yoga shows promise in assisting with blood pressure control, the team points out the need for additional research.
Future work needs to directly compare blood pressure response to yoga and aerobic exercise, which is currently the primary recommended type of exercise for adults with hypertension.
The lead author of the study is Yin Wu, a postdoc from the University of Connecticut.
The study is published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings.
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