Yoga has some pretty obvious physical benefits, like increased flexibility and muscle tone (just ask Miley Cyrus!). But did you know that practicing yoga may also help keep your heart in tip top shape, too?
According to a new study, people who practiced yoga for an hour a day saw a small but significant decrease in blood pressure over the course of three months.
“Both prehypertension and high blood pressure increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, and heart failure,” said Ashutosh Angrish, MD, the study’s lead author and a cardiologist at Sir Gangaram Hospital in Delhi, India.
To test the benefits of yoga on high blood pressure, Dr. Angrish recruited 60 otherwise healthy individuals with an average age of 54. All of them adopted healthier lifestyle choices including aerobic exercise, healthy diets, and no smoking, but only half were told to start practicing yoga. And yep, you guessed it—only the patients in the latter group saw an improvement.
The researchers don’t know exactly why yoga helped the patients regulate their blood pressure, but their best guess is that yoga may calm the nervous system—which makes sense considering so many people use use the ancient tradition as a natural stress reliever. So really, there’s no better time to start yoga than right now.