Objectives: Yoga improves cardiovascular health in both healthy individuals and those with diagnosed heart disease. This study compares changes in some cardiovascular parameters before and after the practice of Yoga in healthy medical students.
Methods: Sixty-four healthy medical students (57 females and 7 males), mean age 21.3 ±2.6 years, attending a Special Study Module ‘Role of Dhyana Yoga in Stress Management’, participated in this study. Systolic (SYS) and Diastolic (DIA) blood pressure, Heart Rate (HR), Stroke Volume (SV), Cardiac output (CO), Total Peripheral Resistance (TPR), Interbeat Interval (IBI), Left Ventricular Ejection Time (LVET), Arterial Compliance (Cwk) and Ascending Aorta Impedance (Zao) were measured before and after six weeks of yogic exercises. Various exercises included asanas (Postures), pranayama (Breathing), and dhyana (Meditation). Data were analyzed using Stata for WindowsTM.
Results: Two-tailed paired t-test revealed that practice of yoga caused significant increases in HR (p < 0.05), SV (p < 0.01), CO (p < 0.001) and Cwk (p < 0.01) and decreases in TPR (p < 0.001), IBI (p < 0.05) and Zao (p < 0.001) after practising yoga for 6 weeks as compared to before yoga practice. No significant differences were, however, observed in SYS, DIA, Mean arterial blood pressure (MAP) and LVET.
Conclusions: Practice of yoga even for a short period showed ability to improve most of the cardiovascular functions. Regular practice of yoga for a longer period may further improve these functions and possibly result in improved management of their daily stress.