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Does exercise have to look a certain way? Can Yoga deliver heart health?

One of my good friends, a guru of sorts, once told me during a ride that things change. He was 50 years-old at the time and the change he was referring to was cycling abilities and priorities. At the time, I was at the peak of my cycling prowess; we were part of strong masters team and things were rolling beautifully. Ah…you are strong, I said. We can keep this up for many more years. He shook his head. “You will see, John.”

Now that I have reached that milestone, I realize the wisdom. Things do change. Bodies change. Priorities change. Pegs on which people hang their self-esteem change.

One thing that remains unchanged, though, is the power of exercise to bring health. Exercise, along with good food choices, sleep hygiene and kindness form the foundation of true health. Wellness.

My views on exercise have always been biased by my own experiences. In the past, I believed that if exercise was to deliver heart health, (drops in blood pressure, change in cholesterol levels, arterial changes) it had to look a certain way. Mostly, it had to be intense and aerobic.

A series of studies on the ancient Indian practice of Yoga challenge such thinking. One study went so far as to study Yoga for the treatment of atrial fibrillation.

I reviewed these studies and wrote some thoughts on the matter. It’s my first post as a writer for the consumer side of WebMD.

The link and title of the story: Yoga for Heart Health? (No registration is required.)


2 replies on “Does exercise have to look a certain way? Can Yoga deliver heart health?”

Thanks for the link to your yoga piece at WebMD, Dr. John. The ‘aha’ moment for some physicians reading it may well be heeding your important reminder of the benefits of practices well beyond physical health alone. In the hospital-based Pain Clinic I attend to help me manage ongoing symptoms of coronary microvascular disease, pain specialists there also run weekly programs like Health Recovery Tai-Chi, Yoga, Meditation, and other non-invasive, non-drug modalities that I’m guessing few other physicians are prescribing for their pain patients.

When you say: “…my views on exercise have always been biased by my own experiences”, it reminded me of the inherent frustration felt by those who offer unheeded exercise advice to patients who may not necessarily be competitive cyclists. Or recommendations on health tracking apps to patients who may not be the worried well of the Quantified Self movement. Or prescriptions to take these cardiac meds every day for the rest of your natural life to patients who cannot afford to buy them.

It’s a wee bit shocking to get this, but getting it is what we must do: not everybody is just like we are, or motivated by what motivates us.

Water is the one medium one never ages out of. In fact, it is the safest medium for older bodies. No dangers of falling, every body part gets enhanced blood ciruculation and the intensity levels are in the control of the swimmer/water worker. Water yoga is a great way for unsteady cardiac patients to start baby stepping their way into the endless benefits of water world healing. Also excellent for joint replacement rehab and beyond…no one climbs out of the water with the stiff creakiness they climbed in with.

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