This exercise could help boost your mental health during COVID-19 pandemic

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In a new study, researchers found that the ancient practice of yoga could provide a sustainable exercise alternative for thousands of people isolating at home.

They found that movement-based yoga can strongly improve mental health.

it’s a welcome and timely finding given strict social distancing measures that limit exercise options.

The research was conducted by a team from the University of South Australia and elsewhere.

As self-isolation escalates and people find themselves working from home and unable to physically catch up with their friends and family, more people feel lonely and disconnected.

Exercise has always been a great strategy for people struggling with these feelings as it boosts both mood and health.

But as gyms and exercise classes of all kinds are now closed—even jogging with a friend is strongly discouraged—people are looking for alternatives, and this is where yoga can help.

The team examined 19 studies (1080 participants) across six countries (US, India, Japan, China, Germany and Sweden), where individuals had a formal diagnosis of a mental disorder, including depression and anxiety.

The researchers defined movement-based yoga as any form of yoga where participants are physically active at least 50% of the time, that is forms of yoga that emphasize holding poses and flowing through sequences of poses.

They found that movement-based yoga improved symptoms of depression (or improved mental health) for people living with a range of mental health conditions including anxiety, post-traumatic stress, and major depression.

It is very good news for people struggling in times of uncertainty.

The team says while the results are promising, challenges remain.

Importantly, the most vulnerable in the community are often the least likely to have access to exercise or yoga programs despite the potential benefits.

The lead author of the study is UniSA Ph.D. candidate, Jacinta Brinsley.

The study is published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

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