9 Long-Term Benefits Of Yoga
Yoga is an ancient practice designed to help people bring their bodies and minds together as one. It is a mix of breath, movement, and meditation that aims to help a person relax and feel at ease. The many benefits of yoga have been well documented, and research has found that yoga can increase the health of both the body and the mind. So what are the long-term benefits of yoga?
Are the benefits of yoga immediate or long-term?
Although there are short-term benefits of yoga, the most noticeable effects will take place the longer you practice. In the short term, research has found that people who do yoga can experience stress relief and a reduction in anxiety levels. Short-term yoga has also been shown to help encourage a healthy mind and improve overall quality of life. Of course, these effects become more prevalent the longer you practice.
What are the long-term benefits of yoga?
While there are many benefits of yoga, some are only anecdotal and don’t yet have a lot of scientific evidence behind them. That doesn’t mean that they’re not true benefits – it just means that not a lot of study has gone into them. However, there are many long-term benefits that are backed by science. Let’s take a look at a few below.
1. Lessens stress
Yoga has been hailed a great stress reliever because of its ability to promote relaxation. Research has found that practicing yoga over the long term can actually decrease the amount of cortisol (often referred to as the stress hormone) that is secreted, even outside of practice.
2. Relieves anxiety
Yoga has gained attention in recent decades because of the increase in anxiety in the general population – and for good reason. Countless studies have found that when people regularly practice yoga, they are better equipped to cope with feelings of anxiety on a day-to-day basis. Over a longer period of time, yoga has also been shown to help reduce feelings of anxiety overall. Research on the subject of yoga and PTSD, a condition characterized by high levels of anxiety and fear, has also shown that people who practiced yoga had fewer symptoms of the condition.
3. Reduces inflammation
Yoga isn’t just for mental health, but physical health as well. Inflammation in the body can lead to the development of various chronic health conditions. Studies have shown that people who practice yoga on a regular basis had less inflammatory markers than those who didn’t.
4. Improves heart health
A healthy heart makes sure that blood gets pumped to where it needs to go in the body, along with oxygen and other nutrients. Yoga has been shown to improve heart health for those who practice over a long-term period. In fact, people who do yoga for years often have lower blood pressure and pulse rates than those who don’t.
5. Improves quality of life
Quality of life is important for everyone, but especially in older people, because getting older often goes hand in hand with decreased health. Studies have shown that older adults who do yoga have better moods, less fatigue, and on overall improved quality of life than those who engaged only in other forms of exercise, such as walking.
People who are going through cancer treatment have also experienced improved quality of life when adding yoga into their treatment plan. Studies have shown that chemotherapy symptoms have even decreased in women who practiced yoga while getting treated for breast cancer.
6. Fights depression
Yoga has an antidepressant effect. This is likely due to the decreased levels of cortisol that people experience when they practice yoga long-term. Specific studies have looked at the correlation between depression symptoms and yoga practice, and the results were clear: yoga can help to reduce depressive symptoms and fight the condition. For those with depression, adding yoga as a supplemental form of treatment can have great results.
7. Reduces chronic pain
Millions of people experience chronic pain on a daily basis. It’s one of the biggest patient complaints. Chronic pain can arise for many reasons, including health conditions such as arthritis or an injury. Whatever the cause, yoga has been shown to help reduce feelings of chronic pain.
One particular study on chronic pain in the wrist due to carpal tunnel syndrome found that yoga helped to improve symptoms by building strength in the wrist. Another looked at patients with osteoarthritis and found that physical function and pain levels were improved after practicing yoga. It appears, then, that no matter what the pain stems from, yoga can help.
8. Promotes better sleep
Sleep disorders are incredibly common, and a lack of good quality sleep can lead to the development of mental illness and other health conditions. Getting adequate sleep is essential to overall health, so if you’re not getting enough shut-eye, it’s possible that adding yoga into your routine could help. Research has found that practicing yoga over the long term can promote better rest by helping people fall asleep faster and sleep longer.
9. Relieves migraines
People who suffer migraines know just how debilitating they can be. Roughly one out of every seven Americans deals with migraines, so they’re not uncommon. Although there are some effective medicinal treatments, evidence is beginning to show that yoga may also be helpful in combating the frequency of migraines. It’s thought that because of the way yoga stimulates the vagus nerve, it helps reduce and relieve migraine pain.
How many days a week should you do yoga?
Although there is no magic number for everyone, to get the full benefits of a long-term yoga practice, it’s suggested that you take between two to five classes per week. These classes can be short or long; however, the typical class is roughly 60 minutes.
Evidence continues to pile up about the physical and mental health benefits of yoga. Due to the overwhelmingly positive effect the exercise has on various bodily systems, it’s no wonder that it has gained such popularity in recent years, and continues to do so today.