by Lauren Fiecthner, MD
In a study examining yoga in patients with heart disease, practicing yoga was found to decrease body fat, cholesterol, blood pressure and heart rate. In fact, a case study found that a 31-year-old who practiced yoga for 90 days showed improvement in activity of the anti-aging enzyme telomerase, lower levels of the stress enzyme cortisol and a reduction in oxidative stress markers. These studies coupled yoga with stress management, group discussions and individualized advice, so yoga alone may not be responsible for all of these benefits; still, it’s rather impressive to find such linkages.
Finally, in a meta-analysis that looked at over 30 randomized controlled trials, yoga compared to non-exercise was found to decrease BMI, weight, blood pressure, and “bad” cholesterol, and to increase “good” cholesterol. (However, in this analysis they did not find a statistically significant difference in sugar control.) With all of this data, I know that I will be spending more time practicing yoga! Namaste.