A clinical study conducted with 60 hypertensive patients demonstrated that the yoga can be an effective ally for those with cardiovascular problems. The search Canadian compared two groups of volunteers and found a significant improvement in heart rate and blood pressure at rest in those who did yoga instead of stretching before others Exercises.
The project was carried out for three months and, during this period, the participants were submitted to physical routines five times a week. Daily workouts consisted of 15 minutes of yoga for group 1 and the same amount of stretching for group 2, with a sequence of 30 minutes of aerobic activities equal for both classes.
The results confirmed that, despite being similar, stretching and yoga have important differences. Evidence even supports that the latter, due to its variety and intensity, may be equal to or greater in cardiovascular benefits than aerobic exercise itself. However, they point out that more research is needed before yoga can be added to cardiac rehabilitation guidelines.
The data were published in the 2022 Canadian Journal of Cardiology. The article was titled “Impact of Yoga on Global Cardiovascular Risk as an Add-On to a Regular Exercise Regimen in Patients With Hypertension”. a regular exercise regimen in patients with hypertension, in Portuguese).
Researchers Ashok Pandey, Avinash Pandey, Shekhar Pandey, Alis Bonsignore, Audrey Auclair and Paul Poirier write that the yoga group was stable at first, but after three months showed antihypertensive advances relative to the control group.
Os yoga practitioners made more effort and had higher heart rates, but without extreme impact. “As it is associated with reduced risks of coronary events and mortality, yoga may be a promising alternative for patients with a chance of cardiovascular disease,” points out the study.
Participants in the main group showed a reduction in lipids, glucose and blood pressure, among other indices, after the practices, suggesting that yoga can be incorporated into the lifestyle as well as a strategy for preventing cardiovascular diseases.
“Our findings are consistent and reported a mean reduction in systolic blood pressure of 7.9 mm Hg and 4.3 mm Hg in diastolic blood pressure between participants after the yoga intervention,” the authors state. The positive effects obtained on blood pressure can be explained by the hypothesis that yoga affects the autonomic nervous system.
This allows “increasing the bioavailability and blood levels of nitric oxide”, promoting vasodilation and a decrease in cortisol, the so-called “stress hormone”, which is closely associated with high blood pressure.
Louise Montesanti, a geriatrician with a certification in lifestyle medicine, says the study of the impact of physical activity on hypertension has so far shown modest drops in blood pressure, around 4.6 mm of mercury.
“This study [canadense] nearly doubles that drop. It seems like a small effect, but 20 mm of mercury in systolic pressure, which is maximum, and an increase of 10 mm of mercury in diastolic, which is minimum, are small increases that double the risk of cardiovascular disease. This reduction brings a lot of benefit”, analyzes Montessani.
For the geriatrician, it is not only the impact on morbidity and mortality that counts, but also the reduction in the need for medication. “With the aging of our population, we increasingly have the issue of polypharmacy, which is the use of numerous medications that can cause side effects or interact with each other”, says the doctor.
Cardiologist Carla Tavares, an exercise and sports doctor, in turn, points out that for the prevention of cardiovascular diseases, regularly associating aerobic exercises with strength and flexibility exercises is ideal.
“Yoga specifically is an exercise modality known for its ability to improve deep breathing skills and restore calm. So, in addition to the other benefits of exercise, it helps to reduce emotional stress and its impacts on the body”, defends the cardiologist.
Coordinator of the Mater Dei Network’s Preventive Medicine and Sports Medicine services, Tavares also says that yoga is capable of helping to increase muscle strength and endurance, which may, in the long term, impact the body’s metabolic efficiency and vascular health.
For yoga teacher Val Moreyra, instructor of the Kikos Fit app, the results confirm an improvement that students report in practice. “Channeling emotions releases muscle tension. Meditating and doing breathing exercises, helping to expand lung capacity, lowering blood pressure, improves the psychological, reducing heartbeats”, says the instructor.
Designer Andréa Nóbis, 62, has high blood pressure, takes medication, but does not stop practicing physical conditioning and walking every day. She has been doing yoga for 12 years, twice a week, and says that the modality brings, in addition to flexibility and force, a great feeling of well-being and relaxation. “Blood pressure is reduced, it is controlled, and the psychological tension is also reduced. In addition, the heartbeat is regularized, and the respiratory power increases considerably”, reports the practitioner.
Aline Coga, a yoga teacher and practitioner, started when she was nine years old and hasn’t stopped since.
“This made all the difference to the control and management I have of issues related to mental health in my life. Yoga not only helps our physical body, but also to control emotions, concentrate better and have self-control”, points out Coga.
Yoga teacher Daniela Faria, from Fit Anywhere, defines the practice as a set of postures (called asanas), which have an effect on the body and mind. “There are also breathing exercises, called pranayama, and meditation, which in the more traditional lines usually happens at the end of the class, even if it’s just for a few minutes. It ends up being quite different from stretching”, says Faria.
Yoga modalities range from the softest (Hatha Yoga), which focuses on flexibility, to more dynamic and vigorous ones (such as Vinyasa, Vinyasa Flow, Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga and Iyengar). In general, there is no age or contraindication to start the practice, except when there are known health restrictions.
“It is very important that the person report any medical condition to the teacher. There are some inverted postures, in which the person is upside down, which are not indicated, for example, for hypertensive patients or those with glaucoma”, warns Farias.