By Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.A.C.N., C.N.S., C.B.T.
The beneficial effects of yoga on blood pressure have been studied going back to 1975, but the practice hasn’t been widely welcomed in the medical world. A study at the University of Pennsylvania may not open any more doctors’ doors, but is confirms the fact that yoga can be helpful in lowering blood pressure among individuals with pre-hypertension or mild hypertension.
The study compared 26 individuals in a yoga program with those in a standard “usual care” program based on dietary changes. At the end of three months, the blood pressure numbers dropped by 5-6 points for the yoga group. There were no improvements in the diet group.
The researchers said that while the drop in numbers were not equivalent to a drug effect, the effect was nevertheless significant enough to perhaps enable people with mildly high blood pressure to avoid needing medication to begin with.
Access study here.
My Viewpoint: Yoga to me is the ice cream of exercise. It is so enjoyable to do, and I’ve been doing it regularly for several decades. When I first got into it, there was little scientific validation, and today, it is totally mainstream and backed by hundreds of positive studies. This study doesn’t surprise me because over the years, I have seen it help many patients with their blood pressure, as well as other cardiovascular issues, anxiety, depression, lower back problems, arthritis, and even digestion. I’ve recommended it to my patients for years.
What This Means to You: If you have high blood pressure, or even if you don’t, yoga is good for you.
Recommendation: Find a good yoga teacher and start taking lessons, either in a group, which is always fun, or privately. If you are elderly, you need an experienced teacher to help guide you. It is often never too late to start, and if done properly and gently, you don’t have to worry, as many seniors do, about hurting yourself.
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