When yoga is compared to cardio (aerobic) exercise as part of heart disease treatment, which is better?

Yoga and cardio exercise are both very beneficial forms of physical activity for healthy people as well as those afflicted with heart disease, but is one better than the other for heart disease?

A study found that when yoga was undertaken in addition to cardio exercise, the ensuing benefits were greater than when only one of these forms of exercise were undertaken.

However, the study did not pit yoga alone against aerobics alone.

In fact, there is little to no data showing, from a medical or scientific standpoint, which of these disciplines provides more benefits to a person with heart disease.

We only know that the sum is greater than the parts.

If you have heart disease, don’t choose between yoga and cardio. Do BOTH forms of exercise!

Study Results

In October (2017) the study results were presented at the 8th Emirates Cardiac Society Congress in collaboration with the American College of Cardiology Middle East Conference in Dubai.

When heart disease patients practiced both yoga and cardio workouts, they enjoyed twice the reduction in their blood pressure, body mass index and cholesterol levels when compared to those who did only one or the other.

The 750 patients in the study were obese and had type 2 diabetes, which are two major risk factors for coronary artery disease, which they were all diagnosed with at the start of the study.

• One group did cardio.

• Another did yoga.

• A third did both.

The yoga-only and aerobic-only groups had similar reductions in total cholesterol, LDL, triglycerides, blood pressure and body mass index.

The yoga AND cardio group had a two-times greater reduction than the other groups, plus a big improvement in left ventricular ejection fraction and exercise capacity.

Yoga can be done following an aerobics session, as your body will already be warmed up and looser from the increased blood flow.

Or if you prefer, you can do yoga and aerobics on separate days.

Tips for Treadmill Users

  • Do not hold on. Otherwise, you’ll be mimicking the use of a walker.
  • For momentary balance checks, yes, hold on, such as when drinking water, but otherwise, let your arms move naturally.
  • Incline walking is just as beneficial to the heart as is level walking, and vice versa. It comes down to personal preference.
  • Feel free to jog if your knees agree.
  • If you can’t walk/jog without holding onto the treadmill, then the speed is too fast and/or the incline is too high.

Tips for Those New to Yoga

  • If you have heart disease, don’t hesitate to start yoga no matter how stiff you feel.
  • Yoga moves can be modified for stiff, de-conditioned bodies.
  • Do not be “intimidated” by yogis who can bend like pretzels.
  • Your heart will thank you!
Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained women and men of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health. 
Top image: Freepik.com, beerfotos
Source: sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/10/171019100951.htm yoga vs. aerobic exercise heart disease