Yoga has become a popular fitness technique today. We come across psychologists and even celebrities endorsing yoga for ultimate fitness and mental relaxation. However, many people wonder, how does yoga improve fitness? There are several factors that contribute to the answer. To begin with, yoga helps relieve stress and flex your body. It incorporates breathing exercises, poses, and meditation that help reduce stress and encourage relaxation. This article will look at some of the most important fitness benefits of yoga along with some top products for you to consider.
Top Benefits of Yoga
Helps Reduce Stress
The first major benefit of yoga is that it helps reduce stress. Infact, it is known for its ability to relieve stress and promote mental relaxation. Studies have also shown that yoga decreases the secretion of cortisol, which is a primary stress hormone. A study was conducted on 24 women to demonstrate the powerful effects of yoga against the emotionally depressed. After a 3-month program, it was found that the women had comparatively lower levels of cortisol. Moreover, they also had lower levels of anxiety, stress, depression, and fatigue.
Then another study was conducted on 131 people and it was concluded that yoga had helped them relieve stress and anxiety after a 10-week program.
Helps Relieve Anxiety
Another major reason people tend to prefer yoga is to reduce anxiety. If you were wondering how it helps anxiety, interestingly many studies have been conducted on the relationship between yoga and stress and most of them have concluded positive results. In one study, 34 women participants who were diagnosed with an anxiety disorder was conducted to verify the results. The program featured two classes every week for full 2 months. Once the experiment ended, it was found out that the women who underwent the experiment had significantly lower levels of anxiety.
Another study conducted on 64 women with post-traumatic stress also yielded positive results. The women were made to undergo a 10-week program and practiced yoga one weekly. The success was impressive. In fact, 52% of the participants did no longer meet PTSD criteria at all.
Helps Reduce Inflammation
While yoga certainly helps you relieve stress, on the other hand, it might also help you reduce inflammation as well. Although normal inflammation is a response of the immune system but chronic inflammation can lead to pro-inflammatory diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. A study conducted in 2015 divided 218 individuals into two groups. One category belonged to those who practiced yoga while the other consisted of those who did not practice yoga. Both groups were then asked to perform moderate and persistent exercises to induce stress.
Once the study ended, it was found that those who practiced yoga had comparatively lower levels of inflammation as compared to those who did not practice yoga. Additionally, another study conducted in 2014 showed that performing yoga for 12 weeks helped reduce inflammatory markers in breast cancer survivors.
Could Improve Heart Health
Even though the heart is the most important component of the human body, it is the most sensitive as well. It is responsible for pumping blood throughout the body and supplying essential nutrients. With that respect, studies have shown that yoga tremendously helps improve heart health and reduces heart-related diseases as well. A study conducted on individuals above 40 years of age found that those who practiced yoga for 5 years had a lower pulse rate and blood pressure than those who did not perform yoga. Since high blood pressure is one of the biggest causes of elderly deaths, experts suggest that seniors should practice yoga at least once a week.
A study conducted on 113 patients with heart disease followed the effects of yoga by implementing a one-year yoga-training program with stress management and dietary modifications. The results highlighted the fact that the participants saw a 23% decrease in total cholesterol combined with a 26% reduction in “bad” LDL cholesterol.
Improves Quality of Life
As mentioned earlier, yoga is becoming increasingly common with each passing day, and for the right reason. It acts as an adjunct therapy to improve the quality of life. A study conducted on 135 seniors found that after six months of yoga, they had improved their quality of life, fatigue, and mood. In addition to that, other studies have shown that yoga can also help reduce symptoms in cancer patients.
Another study followed women with breast cancer undergoing chemotherapy. Yoga helped reduce vomiting and nausea that are common side-effects of chemotherapy.
Helps Fight Depression
Apart from yoga helping you with anxiety, it is said that yoga features an anti-depressant effect as it helps reduce symptoms of depression. This might be due to the fact that yoga helps decrease the level of cortisol, which is a stress hormone, influencing the levels of serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is associated with depression. One study conducted on individuals included in an alcohol dependency program practiced a type of yoga called Sudarshan Kriya focusing on rhythmic breathing.
Once the training and experiment had ended, it was found that the participants had fewer depression symptoms and lower cortisol levels. Several other studies have been conducted on more or less the same individuals and the majority of results have come out to be positive.
Could Improve Sleep Quality
Poor sleep quality is the biggest reason behind anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, and obesity, etc. Studies have shown that including yoga in your everyday routine is going to help you improve the quality of sleep. In 2005, a study was conducted on 69 elderly patients who were told to either practice yoga or take herbal preparation or be a part of the control group.
Post-study it was found that the individuals who practiced yoga fell asleep faster, longer, and even fell more rested in the morning as compared to the other groups. In addition to that, another important study followed the results of yoga on patients with lymphoma as well. They found that yoga decreased sleep disturbances and helped improve the quality of sleep. As a result, the individuals now required comparatively fewer medications to fall asleep.
Improves Balance and Flexibility
Many people tend to add yoga to their daily routine to improve balance and flexibility. There are a lot of studies that have proven this benefit. The reason being that yoga comprises of different poses that target flexibility and balance. A recent study conducted on 26 male college athletes found that doing yoga significantly helped them increase balance and flexibility as compared to those who didn’t. Another study conducted on 66 elderly participants involved either doing yoga or calisthenics. The program went on for four years and after that, it was found that the yoga group has significantly improved balance and mobility as compared to the calisthenics group.
Promotes Healthy Eating Habits
Mindful eating is the key to ultimate fitness. Today several studies highlight the fact that our eating habits have to do a lot with our fitness. It is directly affected by our sleeping habits as well. It is all about paying attention to the smell, taste, and texture of the food you are consuming. This practice has proven to promote healthy eating habits while helping control blood sugar, weight loss, and eating disorders. Since yoga aims to focus on mindfulness as well, it is thought that it can be used to encourage healthy eating habits. An outpatient eating disorder treatment program including 54 patients once incorporated yoga. The experiment displayed impressive results. Yoga helped them reduce symptoms of eating disorders.
As the article reaches its conclusion, it can be said without a doubt that yoga has tremendous benefits to offer in terms of fitness. Fitness not only increases physical strength and power but also enhances mental relaxation and minimizes stress as well. A human body cannot be deemed fit if the balance between the two is offset. Therefore, considering the benefits outlined above, not only you but everyone should include yoga as a part of their daily routine to maintain the perfect mental and physical balance. Dandelion is also effective in treating inflammation.