Yoga Benefits

Is Yoga All the Exercise You Need?

Yoga is on par with aerobic exercise as one of the best things you can do for mind, body, and spirit, research suggests.

By Adam Bean

Is Yoga All the Exercise You Need?

Good move: Yoga's benefits equal those from other forms of exercise.

For decades, aerobic exercise—the type that raises your heart and breathing rates, such as running or cycling—has been touted by scientists as the gold standard in terms of the number of health benefits it brings. More energy, improved mood, lower risk of heart disease and certain cancers, better sleep, better thinking, better sex, and on and on. (Which is why recommends it at every opportunity.) But as it turns out, there may be another form of exercise that does even more for you: yoga. And weight control may be at the top of its long list of yoga benefits.

In 2010, researchers at the University of Maryland School of Nursing published a comparative analysis of 81 studies that examined yoga's health benefits and the health benefits of aerobic exercise. The researchers found yoga to be especially effective at reducing stress. This may not be news to those who practice yoga, but even die-hard enthusiasts will be surprised at the number of other health benefits yoga can confer—often to a larger degree than aerobic exercise. The researchers found that yoga outperformed aerobic exercise at improving balance, flexibility, strength, pain levels among seniors, menopausal symptoms, daily energy level, and social and occupation functioning, among other health parameters.

Read More: 6 Weird Signs You're Way Too Stressed Out

Yoga does more than calm you down and make you flexible. "We were a little surprised by the results," admits lead researcher Alyson Ross, MSN, RN. "We played around with the studies, making tables grouping the studies in a variety of ways (disease condition, health outcomes, and so forth). When we sorted them by exercise and yoga side-by-side, it became apparent we were on to something."

Here's what to keep in mind if you'd like tap into the power of yoga:

• It's not either or. You don't have to choose yoga or aerobic exercise—by no means does this research suggest that you toss out your walking or running shoes for a yoga mat. Aerobic exercise remains a fun, simple, inexpensive, highly effective form of exercise that confers all sorts of important benefits. And it's important that we all be active every day if we can, taking breaks to move around so we don't spend all our time sitting.

• Yoga is a valid exercise choice. What is clear from this analysis is that yoga should no longer be seen as something even remotely "fringey," or even as something that’s only good for improving flexibility. Rather, this research makes it clear that yoga deserves a permanent place at the health and fitness table, alongside other forms of exercise that may be more familiar to most people. To put it another way, if you like yoga, don't feel like you're missing out if you're not also putting in time on the treadmill or exercise bike. “Yoga seems to be able to provide many of the physical benefits of exercise—and then some,” says Ross. "It behaves as both exercise and meditation."

Read More: 5 Surprising Ways Yoga Affects Your Health

• Yoga may be an untapped resource for losing weight. Ross and her colleagues see an especially intriguing role for yoga in the area of weight control, with the key mechanism being yoga’s stress-reducing power. “Evidence suggests that chronic stress leads to changes in food-seeking behavior, including increased consumption of foods high in sugar and fat, which may eventually lead to obesity,” says Ross. "As yoga provides many of the benefits typically associated with exercise, and is also so effective at reducing stress,” she continues, “it’s possible that yoga might be a particularly useful weapon in the arsenal against obesity.”

• It's good for beginners to find a teacher. If you’re considering giving yoga a try, rest assured that you don’t have to be a contortionist to do it. But it’s best to find a class with a teacher, as starting on your own with a video can be tough. It’s important to learn how to do the poses correctly, at which point you can supplement your class time by doing yoga at home. On the topic of frequency, Ross says, “the scientific literature has shown that the health benefits of yoga can be obtained with a single weekly class, but most studies have used a bigger ‘dose.’ So it is logical to assume that the more you put in, the more you’ll likely get out.”

To find a class near you, ask your friends or coworkers where they go, or check the local Y or nearby health clubs. You can also visit for yoga tips and information on classes—and exercises to try at home. Go to yoga for back pain, yoga for building immunity, and yoga poses for recovering from holidays or other times when you overdo it.

Intimidated by all the yoga lingo? Get started with this easy pose that will help you feel younger in minutes!


Published on: March 1, 2010

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Great article. I enjoy yoga

Great article. I enjoy yoga myself, good for stress release.
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Nice And Informative....
A Complete Solutions And Clear Knowledge About Health With Exercise.
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Person who is suffering from

Person who is suffering from large number of diseases or who want be fit in a daily busy routine life ,yoga is a better option for them, it is helpful in reducing stress, increase flexibility, strenghthen the joints etc. Now I am more towards Yoga than any other exercises. Great thanks to this blog which very informative.

Yoga exercise with meditation

Yoga exercise with meditation can help you to increase your mental concentration and reduce the stress level. Overall this is a wonderful way to bring your mind & body together.
We will show you why yoga is the world's most advanced guide to life.

I just started going to yoga

I just started going to yoga a few times a week and I can already feel how much it is helping me cope with the stresses of life. I love the feeling you have right after a workout -- it is amazing!!!
They introduced a new game at my gym that challenges you even further to break your stress levels.

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This is pretty interesting.

This is pretty interesting. Never read such informative blog. Now, I'm much aware of health. Keep it up fellas!

Snoring Solutions said,"I

Snoring Solutions said,"I don't know about Yoga as a form of exercise it is more a relaxation technique, yes?"

This is one of the most common misconceptions about yoga. It is a relaxation technique, but it can also be an amazing exercise. How much exercise depends largely on what kind of yoga you do and how hard you work--but believe me, it can be real work. If you do really intense positions, or flow yoga--where you move from one pose to the next, sometimes with only a breath between each--it can get your heartrate going as well. It's amazing.

This is interesting but I

This is interesting but I don't know about Yoga as a form of exercise it is more a relaxation technique, yes? snoring solutions

Yoga is also good if you are

Yoga is also good if you are massive playing CastleVille and then you spend almost 12 hours of your everyday life in your computer busy applying cheats. In this matter you need to spend some time for exercise and choose Yoga on it. You have a plenty of time to hack Castleville but only one moment in life to put yourself a hobby for Yoga.

If you can't take away yourself from the keyboard, just simply hang it with CastleVille Bot, this can easily drive your facebook account automatic and let computer boost your coins and energy. A guide that is very useful in time of Yoga.

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They said yoga can give a

They said yoga can give a chance to open your third eye. So I better decided not to do it. Anyway, if you need any plumbing services have a visit at Plumbing Richmond VA.


I started yoga about 4 years ago in order to learn to "quiet my mind." I found that if you don't "focus," you become a "toppling tree" and it is not pretty (grin). Little did I know that it would become a passion. I want to stretch and try hot yoga and other types. I do a vinyasa flow now at least twice a week, but would love more. I do have some dvds, but as the article suggests, get a teacher - a good one. Not an aerobics instructor doubling as a yogi, but a true yoga teacher. Proper instruction is what makes it work. And, the benefits extend far beyond the physical. I encourage everyone that I know to try it...take a leap of faith and keep an open mind and go for it!

yoga and arthritis

I started doing yoga when I was 17 and I am now 58. My rheumatologist said I am the most flexible arthritic patient she ever had. I told her she could credit yoga for that.

hatha yoga

I've been doing yoga since I was in my twenties, and really got actively into it, in my forties. I just love it. it is one of my favourite forms of Exercise. I have lost weight, feel fit, and great, after a session. I usually practice anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes, depending on time, and mood. I can't say enough good about it. Anybody interested should check out Priscilla Patrick. She is awesome.

senior yoga and exercise classes

I am 80 years old and have taken up one yoga class and two exercise classes per week for a few months again after earlier tries. I get stiff and achy and sleepy after these sessions but find that I recover and keep going so it has not done damage and I am gradually getting stronger. I really want to stay strong for many more years even if it hurts!


Yes, I have had chronic low back pains, even had to quit racquetball for several years. But with yoga I've had no back problems and can play racquetball 3 times a week!

yoga as exercise

After years of aerobics only, I started yoga after some friends got interested in it. I found it to be "a massage from the inside out," with all the stress-relieving benefits of a massage without the cost ! My husband found about a dozen beginner tapes at a thrift store 3 for $1, and there is a good yoga series on Total Body Workout on Brigham Young TV.

Yoga as Exercise

This is awesome - I can't wait to pass this on to a friend who recently had a doctor tell her that going to yoga twice a week will do nothing for her.

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