Yoga Stretching is Great for you Heart

Aerobic exercises are touted as necessary for heart health. If you can do them that’s great. A start towards better heart health may be as simple as routine yoga stretching exercises.

yoga (Photo credit: GO INTERACTIVE WELLNESS)

Cardiovascular health is important in preventing various heart related ailments. Bringing your heart rate into the aerobic zone on a regular basis is considered essential by many health professionals.

That’s great if you have the health to begin an aerobic routine. There are many reasons why people may not be able to participate in a vigorous workout. Physical limitations such as previous injuries may make it difficult to sustain any prolonged exercise. Many disease states leave us unable as well.

It may be that with some gentle conditioning, you may be able to get to a point where an aerobic program is feasible. Walking is generally considered a good starting point. You can improve your aerobic walking by periodically checking your pulse to ensure it is in the aerobic range. For us over 50 years of age it is about 18-20 beats per 10 seconds.

New research is finding that stretching is an excellent way towards arterial health. It can be used as a starting point or supplement to your exercise regime.

A study completed at the University of North Texas Health Science Centre found that trunk flexibility as an excellent predictor of arterial stiffness. Arterial stiffness is understood to be a risk factor for mortality and cardiovascular disorders. Higher levels of physical fitness, especially aerobic fitness, appear to delay an age-related arterial stiffening. This study looked at the relationship between flexibility and arterial stiffness.

It was impressive that the researchers looked at 526 adults (178 males and 348 females), 20 to 39 yr of age (young), 40 to 59 yr of age (middle-aged), and 60 to 83 yr of age (older). They were all healthy in that they did not have chronic diseases, were obese or smoked.

The results were striking. They found that that a less flexible body indicates arterial stiffening, especially in middle-aged and older adults. Age-related arterial stiffening was greater in the poor-flexibility than in the high-flexibility groups, which suggests that poor flexibility is associated with greater age-related arterial stiffening. Flexibility was identified as a predictor of arterial stiffness, independent of other components of fitness.

Another study found that a stretching program significantly increased carotid arterial compliance. Together these findings suggest that improving flexibility with stretching exercises may improve age-related arterial stiffening in middle-aged and older adults.

Stretching is already widely recommended for injury prevention. The study shows that flexibility exercise such as stretching, yoga, and pilates are helpful in an overall approach to cardiovascular health. So whether you are starting or have an exercise program, fitting in stretching will do your heart good.

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