Is Yoga Best For Decreasing Risk of Arterial Fibrillation?

Chronic, high-intensity physical activity has been associated with increased risk of developing atrial fibrillation (AF). There is concern that moderate levels of physical activity increase the risk for AF. This study supports the practice of yoga as a means to DECREASE risk of AF.


The research was performed with a symptom-limited exercise tolerance test (ETT) in 6,390 veterans (4,401 blacks and 1,989 whites), at the VAMCs in Washington, DC, between 1986 and 2012. All had no evidence of heart conditions such as ischemia, AF or atrial flutter at the time or prior to ETT. Four fitness categories were created based on age of peak metabolic equivalents (MET) achieved: Least-Fit category (4.9 ± 1.13 METs; n = 1,578); Low-Fit (6.7 ± 1.0; n = 1,613); Moderate-Fit (7.9 ± 1.0 METs; n = 1,683) and High-Fit (9.3 ± 1.2 METs n = 1,516).

During follow-up of about  8.0 years, 838 developed AF. For every 1-MET increase in exercise capacity, the AF risk was 21% lower. AF risk was:

  • 23% lower for the Low-Fit;
  • 46% for Moderate-Fit ; and
  • 64% for High-Fit individuals.

The researchers observed an inverse, independent and graded association between exercise capacity and AF risk. The decline in risk was greatest with only modest increases in exercise capacity. They conclude that their findings support that increased fitness status achievable with moderate increases in physical activity as recommended by National and International guidelines lowers the risk for AF.

Yoga is generally considered a moderate physical activity that is accessible by anybody. More people taking up yoga for as a physical activity would increase the prevention of AF.


J Hypertens. 2015 Jun;33 Suppl 1:e64. doi: 10.1097/01.hjh.0000467518.59380.e0.


Pittaras A1, Faselis C, Doumas M, Manolis AJ, Grassos H, Kifnidis K, Kouremenos N, Papavasileiou M, Kallistratos M, Athanasiadis I, Kokkinos P.

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