By Karen Fleming, NP
Reliant Medical Group Internal Medicine
The next time you roll out your yoga mat, chances are that you’re not alone – yoga is more popular than ever, and for good reason. The American Osteopathic Association suggests that yoga provides various physical and mental health benefits, including lower blood pressure, a reduction in back and other chronic pain, increased flexibility and muscle strength, stress relief, and increased concentration.
If you’re a regular at your local yoga studio, you likely are already enjoying health benefits. However, yoga by itself may not be enough to reach all your health goals. According to a study by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the American Heart Association (AHA), yoga alone will not meet the recommended weekly 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity recommended for cardiovascular fitness. Most yoga poses are considered light-intensity physical activity – which means the downward facing dog or eagle pose that you’ve worked so hard to perfect will probably not be getting your heart rate up as much as you would like.
So what’s a dedicated yoga enthusiast to do? One solution is to add interval training to your yoga regimen. Interval training uses short bursts of high-intensity exercise interspersed with rest periods to achieve health benefits. An example would be running a 50-yard dash, then slowly walking back to the starting line and repeating ten times. A recent study at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario (available here) found that interval training was comparable to longer forms of exercise in its health benefits, including cardiorespiratory fitness and insulin sensitivity. One of the best aspects of interval training is that it does not require as large a time commitment as other types of exercise. Plus there’s no need for a gym or fancy equipment to do interval training. Before starting any exercise program – including Yoga – you should consult with your primary care provider.
So in addition to chanting “Om,” think about mixing up your workout routine with some higher intensity cardiovascular exercise so you can achieve even greater overall health benefits.
About Karen Fleming, NP-C
A graduate of Framingham State College and the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Karen Fleming has been involved in medicine for over 24 years and has been a Nurse Practitioner since 1995. Practicing in the department of Internal Medicine in Auburn, she works with a team of doctors and nurses helping patients with their urgent and chronic healthcare needs. She has enjoyed working in this role for over 12 years. One of the things Karen...View profile View posts by this doctor