(HealthDay News) – Practicing yoga, in addition to aerobic exercise, is associated with greater reductions in blood pressure than stretching in patients with diagnosed hypertension, according to a study published online in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology.

Ashok Pandey, from the Cambridge Cardiac Care Centre in Ontario, Canada, and colleagues randomly assigned 60 individuals with diagnosed hypertension (≥140/90 mm Hg for 3 measurements on different days) to aerobic exercise training (30 minutes 5 times a week) plus either 15 minutes of yoga or a stretching control for 3 months.

The researchers found that the decreases in systolic and diastolic blood pressures were greater in the yoga group (before vs after stretching: 126/76 vs 122/73 mm Hg; before vs after yoga: 130/77 vs 119/69 mm Hg). Decreases in lipid, glucose, and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein levels and the Framingham Risk Score were similar between the groups. The yoga group also saw a greater decrease in the Reynolds Risk Score versus the control stretching group (relative reduction, 13.2 vs 9.3%).

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“This study provides evidence for an additional nonpharmacologic therapy option for cardiovascular risk reduction and blood pressure control in patients with high blood pressure, in the setting of a primary prevention exercise program,” a coauthor said in a statement. “As observed in several studies, we recommend that patients try to find exercise and stress relief for the management of hypertension and cardiovascular disease in whatever form they find most appealing. Our study shows that structured yoga practices can be a healthier addition to aerobic exercise than simply muscle stretching.”

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