With everyone in the world being advised to stay at home to help fight COVID-19, people are paying more attention to their health and are looking for ways to improve it while staying inside.
Of course, eating a balanced and healthy diet will always help, but if you’re already doing that, it might be helpful to start a new fitness regimen as well.
If you’re still not sure what to try, why not start with yoga? The practice and its many types have steadily risen to popularity, with many of its practitioners raving about the benefits that it has given them.
While the effects of different health and fitness regimens can vary from person to person, research has found that yoga indeed has many benefits. Here are a few:
A study gathered migraine patients who were each randomly assigned to do either yoga therapy or self-care for three months. At the end of the study, researchers discovered that those in the yoga group reported significantly fewer complaints related to migraine intensity and frequency than the self-care group.
The study also found that the yoga group had lower anxiety and depression scores than the other group.
A study that followed women who were referred to a yoga clinic found that those who were able to take twice-a-week classes for two months had lower anxiety levels compared to those who were kept on the waiting list for the same period.
In a separate study, researchers found that consistent yoga practice helped lessen depression. Other studies have shown that practicing yoga is an effective way to reduce stress as compared to just plain relaxation, as well to fight anxiety and stress brought about by school exams.
At least, in older people, that is. This study followed the residents of a home for the aged and randomly assigned each to either a yoga, an Ayurveda, or a no-intervention group.
At the end of the study, the yoga group not only reported to have an easier time falling asleep (on average, the group fell asleep 10 minutes faster pre-yoga) and longer sleep time (the average increase was an hour), but the participants also felt that they were more rested in the morning compared to before they practiced yoga. The other two groups saw no significant change.
Another study done on seniors showed that this could be the case.
Researches randomly assigned 135 seniors each into three groups: the yoga group, the exercise group, and the control group. The yoga group took six months of yoga classes, the exercise group took six months of walking classes, while the control group didn’t change anything in their routine.
After six months, no group showed a significant improvement when it came to cognitive function, but the yoga group participants felt they significantly had more energy, experienced less body pain, were more socially active, and had an improved physical condition, as compared to the exercise group and the control group.
The most important benefit of the practice of yoga is the help it gives to one’s immune system. This study has shown that even just a couple of hours of doing yoga can affect gene expression in the body, particularly in immune cells.
Researchers followed 10 participants in a weeklong yoga retreat. After listening to relaxing music and walking, they discovered that the expression of 38 genes was changed.
But after doing yoga poses and breathing exercises, the researches saw that 111 genes in immune cells had changed expression.
What does this all mean? While we’ve all known the benefits of all kinds of exercise, this study suggests that the benefits of yoga are not only almost immediate, but it can go as deep as the genetic level, which could lead to lasting long-term effects, a.k.a., an improved immune system.
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