Yoga spends energy almost as much as convential physical exercise
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CM News – Is yoga a energy-demanding physical exercise? A recent study proves that the exercise physiology of yoga is comparable to conventional physical exercises.
The study was done in India and has been published in the Oxford Journal of Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
The aim of this study was to critically observe the energy expenditure, exercise intensity and respiratory changes during a full yoga practice session. Oxygen consumption (VO2), carbon dioxide output (VCO2), pulmonary ventilation (VE), respiratory rate (Fr) and tidal volume (VT), were measured in 16 physical posture (asanas), five yoga breathing maneuvers (BM) and two types of meditation.
How effective yoga is as an exercise?
Studies have indicated that:
- Long-term yoga practice improves depth of breathing and alters chemoreceptive sensitivity.
- Yoga also reduces metabolic rate in healthy subjects.
- Meditation leads to hypo-metabolic state.
- Yoga improves physical performance, body flexibility and mental health.
- Its therapeutic potentials in various diseases particularly for life-style-related ones have been explored and are being utilized. The four leading risk factors like overweight, high blood pressure, high blood glucose and cholesterol, which are linked to life-style-related chronic diseases, may be reduced by yoga intervention.
- Yoga helped to improve physical performance and to reduce the level of inflammatory markers in chronic heart failure patients with 25% ejection fraction.
- Yoga practices are useful in the management of diabetes and bronchial asthma.
Twenty male yoga instructors were studied and their maximal oxygen consumption was recorded. Subjects performed maximal exercise on a bicycle ergometer on a day other than the day when they practiced yoga.They pedaled at zero load for 5 min as warm up exercise. Then, they were given a brief rest.
The study shows that wherever tidal volume reduced, pulmonary ventilation increased. This helps to maintain the level of pulmonary ventilation as per the requirement of oxygen consumption for that particular posture. Pulmonary ventilation and carbon dioxide output increased proportionately with the increase in oxygen consumption in all the yoga exercises and in some yoga breathing maneuvers.
Energy expenditure during cycling (5.5 mph) is 3.8 kcal min–1 and walking on treadmill (2.0 mph) is 3.1 kcal min–1. While comparing these with yoga the average energy expenditure during the practice of full yoga exercises in this study shows 60.3 and 73.8% of that of cycling and walking, respectively.
The study concludes that although yogic practices are low intensity exercises within lactate threshold, physical performance improvement is possible owing to both better economy of breathing by BM and also by improvement in cardiovascular reserve. Other factors such as psycho-physiological and better relaxation may contribute to it.