- Yoga is a healthy form of exercise that works your muscles, heart, and mind — but do you really need the extra heat?
- A new study suggests that as far as your heart is concerned, the temperature of the yoga class doesn’t really matter.
- Previous research has also suggested that some of the other benefits of hot yoga could be overstated, such as the number of calories burned per class.
I could always tell I’d arrived at my hot yoga studio by the smell.
Unlike the rooms of a regular yoga class, those housing hot yoga classes were like sponges for the aroma of hundreds of determined, sweaty humans.
I started practicing yoga in a heated environment after hearing about its dozens of alleged health benefits — including being better for your heart and muscles, and boosting your overall calorie burn — but I was never a sworn devotee. Something about sweating enough to create puddles on your mat didn’t win me over.
So I felt somewhat vindicated after reading a new study that suggests that as far as your heart is concerned, the temperature of the yoga class doesn’t really matter. Other research has also suggested that some of the other benefits of hot yoga could be overstated, such as the number of calories burned per class.
For the new study, published this month in the journal Experimental Physiology, researchers compared three groups of people aged 40-60. Participants either attended a 1.5-hour hot Bikram yoga class, did the same class at room temperature, or did no yoga. The yoga-practicing participants went to three classes per week for roughly three months.
At the end of the study, the researchers looked at participants’ heart health with a particular focus on the endothelium, a thin membrane that lines the inside of the heart and blood vessels and is thought to play a key role in heart disease and function. They found that participants in both yoga groups — regardless of the temperature at which they practiced — saw similar benefits when it came to preserving the lining of their heart and blood vessels.
“This is the first publication to date to show a beneficial effect of the practice [of yoga] in the absence of the heat,” Stacy D. Hunter, the lead author on the study and a professor of exercise and sports science at Texas State University, said in a statement. “The heated practice environment did not seem to play a role in eliciting [these] improvements.”
Another key benefit of yoga is providing a good workout and overall calorie burn. It’s long been thought that adding heat and humidity to the mix enhances those benefits, but a small study from researchers at Colorado State University cast doubt on that logic.
Brian Tracy, a health and exercise science professor at Colorado State University, presented that research at the 2014 American College of Sports Medicine’s national meeting.For his study, he had 19 people aged 18-40 practice hot Bikram yoga while he measured their metabolic rate. Rather than the “thousands” of calories that practitioners often boast of burning in a single 1.5-hour class, Tracy’s Bikram participants typically burned about 400 — roughly the equivalent of walking briskly for the same amount of time.
Simply adding heat to yoga, in other words, may not ramp up its calorie-burning power. What’s likely more important for physical health are the poses, the dynamic nature of the class, and the length of time students are holding the postures.
Although these limitations are important to keep in mind, they certainly shouldn’t be seen as a reason to stop practicing yoga. Despite giving up on hot yoga, I continue to do regular yoga nearly every day. The practice quiets my mind, makes me feel strong, and challenges me to do things I’d never thought physically possible.
The science backs me up here — dozens of studies have linked a regular yoga practice to stronger, more flexible muscles, a healthier heartand, in people with depression and anxiety, a decrease in negative symptoms.
So whatever your fitness preference, keep moving. Your body and mind will thank you.
Source : https://www.businessinsider.com/hot-yoga-better-healthier-calories-regular-2018-1