6 Heart-Health Benefits of Yoga, 3 of 6

A six-part series from everydayhealth.com by Ashley Welch and reviewed by Michael Cutler, DO, PhD.

Heart Health Benefit #3: Yoga Helps You Manage Stress

While researchers haven't determined exactly how stress contributes to heart disease, stress can lead to an increase in behaviors and other factors that elevate heart disease risk. These include smoking, physical inactivity, overeating, and high blood pressure.

Yoga can also play a significant role in reducing stress and related issues. A Canadian study showed improvement in anxiety, depression, and quality-of-life scores in women awaiting a stressful medical procedure following a six-week yoga program. “Most stress-relief techniques involve some attention to breathing,” says Joel Kahn, MD, a cardiologist at the Kahn Center for Cardiac Longevity in Grosse Pointe, Michigan and author of The Whole Heart Solution. “One of the essential focuses of all styles of yoga is awareness of the breath and being more mindful," he says. "So either explicit or implicit attention to stress reduction is inherent in almost all yoga classes.”

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