Yoga verses traditional exercise

QUESTION OF THE MONTH
Do you recommend yoga as an alternative to traditional strength training and cardiovascular exercise?

ANSWER
Yes! It is always beneficial to incorporate different types of activities into your exercise regimen. Variations in movements, intensity or duration force our bodies to adapt to the new stresses. We’ve all heard that yoga is good for you, but most people only think of it as twisting themselves into a pretzel while listening to new-age music. Yoga actually provides a challenging workout and offers several health benefits, both physically and mentally.

Practicing yoga on a regular basis will increase flexibility, bringing greater motion to muscles and joints. Safely stretching muscles also releases lactic acid build up, which relieves muscle tension, stress and fatigue. In addition, many yoga poses increase strength and endurance, including upper and lower body strength, as well as core abdominal strength. Deep breathing practices are also integral to a beneficial yoga workout. Deep, deliberate breathing improves lung capacity, which can result in improved endurance and performance in sports-focused activities.

While many yoga movements can be physically taxing, the intense concentration brings a calming effect to the mind. Stress drifts away, creating a more positive, content mood. The deep breathing also has a meditative effect, bringing the focus away from distracting thoughts. In addition, yoga has been shown to lower heart rate and blood pressure, which are essential benefits for those with heart conditions.

Hectic schedules rule our lives. An exercise that combats stress, calms our minds and improves our physical fitness all at once seems like a no-brainer. And you really don’t have to twist yourself into a pretzel to get the most out of it. Try yoga for yourself and see what difference it can make in your life.

Anthony G. Barnes is the club owner at Anytime Fitness in Chester and holds a degree in sports medicine and exercise science. To submit a question for future articles, please contact the author at anthony.barnes@anytimefitness.com

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