As the number of overweight and obese individuals continues to increase at an alarming rate, people are looking for the best method to drop excess pounds and improve their physical condition. There are two courses which should be followed to achieve these goals, including dietary modification and a regular exercise routine.
While eating a healthy, calorie reduced diet is essential, true health will only come as a result of physical activity. Cardio exercise has always been popular, as it requires little training or expensive equipment, and delivers results quickly.
Yoga has been practiced in many forms for thousands of years, and is gaining momentum as a primary form of exercise. The question is, can yoga replace cardio exercise and still provide the same health rewards?
Yoga Enhances Mood, Mind and Spirit
Yoga provides a unique type of conditioning which has been shown to enhance physiological and psychological parameters of health. Yoga suppresses the hormone cortisol which has been shown to relieve anxiety, reduce blood pressure and suppress inflammation in the body. This is an amazing set of accomplishments, as this can reduce the risk of many diseases ranging from heart disease, stroke and Alzheimer’s disease to certain forms of cancer.
As impressive as this list may sound, cardio exercise has many of the same effects on our health, and has even been shown to boost mood and reduce depression. While cardio may not have the profound, enlightened effect on spirituality as yoga, this form of exercise raises the heart rate in a way that yoga does not.
Maintaining an increased heart rate for an extended period provides many of the heart healthy benefits attributed to cardio exercise. Increased heart rate improves endurance levels and decreases blood pressure, both critical in reducing the risk of a heart attack or stroke.
Use Yoga as a Compliment to Cardio Exercise
Yoga has survived for centuries, and is ideal for reducing stress and improving strength, flexibility and posture. Although there are many different types of yoga, most do not require the physical intensity which would place it at a par with cardio exercise. Many typical cardio routines, including walking, jogging, cycling and swimming are performed for a minimum of 30 minutes at a moderate intensity. This type of training positively impacts biomarkers for health, including improved cholesterol and triglycerides and lowered blood glucose and insulin levels.
When determining whether yoga can replace cardio, it’s best to review the positive aspects of each independently. Each training method provides a different set of parameters for improving our health. Yoga is best suited for clearing our mind toward a heightened spirituality and enhancing muscle strength, flexibility and coordination. Cardio exercise focuses on improving heart function and directly lowers our risk of serious illness.
Yoga is not a direct substitute for a solid cardio training program, but should compliment your existing cardio routine. Alternate between the two on different days of the week, and reap the benefits of improved body, mind and spirit.