How to live longer: The best exercise to boost heart health and increase life expectancy

Long life expectancy can be achieved through daily exercise, according to experts. The NHS recommends adults aged 19 to 64 aim to be physically active every day, but does note any activity is better than none. It advises doing strengthening activities that work all the major muscles and doing at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity a week.

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As part of these guidelines, one surprising exercise proven to improve heart health among other benefits is yoga.

Yoga is a group of physical, mental and spiritual practices or disciplines which originated in ancient India.

It involves breathing exercises, meditation and poses which are designed to encourage relaxation as well as reduce stress.

But how can it benefit your heart?

One study fund participants over 40 years of age who practiced yoga for five years had a lower blood pressure and pulse rate than those who didn’t. 

High blood pressure can lead to heart problems, including heart attacks and strokes.

So lowering blood pressure could help reduce the risk of these conditions developing.

Research has also demonstrated incorporating yoga into a healthy lifestyle could help slow the progression of heart disease.

One study involving 113 patients with heart disease looked at the effects of a lifestyle change that included one year of yoga training in combination with dietary modifications and stress management. 

The participants showed a 23 percent decrease in total cholesterol and a 26 percent reduction in ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol.

Also, the profession of heart disease stopped in 47 percent of patients.

One of yoga’s main aims is to minimise stress, which is a major contributor to heart disease. So it could also help in this way. 

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Yoga may also help a person live longer by helping prevent disease.

While inflammation is a normal immune response, chronic inflammation can contribute to the development of diseases like heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

But studies have demonstrated how yoga can reduce inflammation.

One study carried out in 2015 divided 218 participants into two groups – those who practiced yoga regularly and those who didn’t. 

Both groups then performed moderate and strenuous exercises to induce stress.

At the end of the study, individuals who practiced yoga had lower levels of inflammatory markers than those who didn’t

A small 2014 study showed that 12 weeks of yoga reduced inflammatory markers in breast cancer survivors with persistent fatigue. 

Yoga has also been shown to reduce chronic pain and fight depression.

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