Yoga could provide a small benefit to people looking to lower their high blood pressure, according to new research.
A study presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hypertension shows that practicing yoga could help decrease blood pressure in people with mild to moderate hypertension.
"So far it looks very promising that yoga might be a useful therapy for patients with mild-to-moderate hypertension who want to avoid using medication," study researcher Dr. Debbie Cohen, M.D., of the University of Pennsylvania, told MedPage Today. "This could also be used as an adjunct to other lifestyle modifications."
The study included 120 people with an average age of 50, 58 of whom completed the study. All the study participants were organized into one of three groups: One was assigned to do yoga two or three times a week in a studio for 24 weeks, while another group was assigned to do a walking/nutrition/weight counseling program. The third group was assigned to do both yoga and dietary counseling. Researchers analyzed their blood pressure at the beginning of the study, 12 weeks into the study, and 24 weeks into the study.
They found that the people who did yoga had decreases in their systolic blood pressure at the 12-week mark, and decreases in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure at the 24-week mark. However, the researchers noted that the other two groups also experienced positive effects on their blood pressure.
Past research has also shown that yoga has an impact on the gene expression of immune cells, which suggests the practice can affect health on a genetic level.