Yoga, yoga good for your heart, the more you practice the more you…get smart about your health, of course!
The first ever yoga study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found yoga to be a safe, effective and relatively cheap therapy for improving the lives of heart patients.
The study conducted by The University of Kansas Hospital found that,
“…rigorous practice of yoga can help reduce episodes of irregular heartbeat and improve the symptoms of anxiety and depression often associated with atrial fibrillation. On average, yoga was found to cut patients’ episodes of atrial fibrillation in half and significantly improve quality of life.”
Well, hell, everybody can heart pump to that. You know, like fist pump?? Nevermind.
So far, yoga has been found to be helpful for people with heart disease, but until now there hasn’t been a proven complementary therapy to reduce symptoms of arterial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat) says lead investigator of the study Dhanunjaya Lakkireddy, M.D. at The University of Kansas Hospital.
“The practice of yoga is known to improve many risk factors for heart disease including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, hardening of the arteries, and stress and inflammation in the body,” Lakkireddy said . “There are currently no proven complementary therapies that are known to help decrease the symptoms of atrial fibrillation in a noninvasive fashion with minimal side effects and reasonable safety and efficacy.”
The study involved 49 patients with atrial fibrillation who had no physical limitations. The first three months being the control phase, the participants could do their regular exercise routine, you know probably the usual we all do daily: rock climbing, base jumping, spelunking etc. The next three months each participant took part in a yoga class three times a week involving breathing exercises, yoga postures, meditation and relaxation. They were all yoga newbies who were also given an educational DVD and encouraged to practice at home on a daily basis.
Data showed the yoga intervention significantly reduced the number of episodes of irregular heart beat among atrial fibrillation patients during the study phase compared to the control phase where subjects were participating in the physical activity of their choice. Yoga also reduced depression and anxiety scores and improved quality of life scores in the areas of physical functioning, general health, vitality, social functioning, and mental health.
Reducing depression and anxiety while improving quality of life? Those are the awesomest side effects we’ve ever heard of.
“These findings are important because many of the current conventional treatment strategies for atrial fibrillation include invasive procedures or medications with undesirable side effects. Success with these therapies varies widely, and they are often only modestly effective in controlling heart rhythm,” Lakkireddy said.
“It appears yoga has a significant impact on helping to regulate patients’ heart beat and improves their overall quality of life. Any intervention that helps in reducing or controlling the arrhythmia burden in atrial fibrillation can have a huge impact on public health.”
In high school we had this friend who used to sweetly (and obnoxiously) encourage us to keep up the pace when running in gym class because, “your heart says thank you!” Ugh. Thank goodness we found yoga, because our heart says thank you and the rest of our body says great jumping Jehoshaphat, for crying out loud, sincerest gratitude! Really, you’re the best, thanks. (No offense to runners, of course. Running is awesome!)
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