Researcher Paula Pullen and her team found yoga improved cardiovascular health, flexibility, markers of heart inflammation and quality of life.
“Yoga appears to be an effective, worthwhile pairing to standard medical care,” Pullen said. “Our study is one of the first on this topic and the results merit even more attention to these benefits.”
Forty heart-failure patients participated in the study, with 21 participating in the yoga program. All participants completed treadmill, flexibility and EKG tests, and they self-reported quality of life with a questionnaire. Patients had similar baseline levels in all areas at the start of the yoga intervention program.
Patients in the yoga program increased their aerobic capacity in treadmill tests by 22 percent, although it should be noted all 40 patients were instructed to begin a regular walking program. Flexibility also significantly improved, with all participants improving on sit-and-reach tests by at least four centimeters. Vascular markers of inflammation decreased and quality-of-life scores increased.
“It’s important to note the marked improvements in both physical and mental health with these patients, as around 25 percent of heart-failure sufferers experience severe depression,” Pullen said. “They often feel their lives are ‘over’ after a cardiac event and physical activity – in this case, yoga – can help curb those emotions.”
Pullen noted that incidence of heart failure among African-Americans has risen in recent years, giving even more importance to finding post-cardiac event interventions for this group.
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The conclusions outlined in this news release are those of the researchers only, and should not be construed as an official statement of the American College of Sports Medicine.