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Yoga: The importance of Exercise

Yoga: The importance of Exercise

Benefits of Exercise

The benefits of regular moderate exercise cannot be over emphasized. Moderate regular exercise has both immediate and long term benefits for promoting healthy mind and body relationship. The health and endurance of our heart and lungs are built up by repeated regular aerobic exercises (heart friendly) of moderate intensity. This involves rhythmic contraction of large muscle groups during which the circulatory and respiratory systems maintain blood and oxygen delivery to the exercising muscles, including the muscles of the heart. The heart friendly exercise such as walking, wagging, jogging, swimming and bicycling, dancing and skinning are the best exercise for the muscles, joints and heart. These exercises don’t build muscles mass unlike heart unfriendly exercises (anaerobic) such as pushups and weight lifting which build muscles. It has been shown recently by various research workers that moderate regular exercise can release most powerful morphin like brain chemicals known as endorphins which are responsible for feeling of happiness, welbeing and tranquility of mind. Moderate regular exercise also reduces bad cholesterol such as low density lipoproteins (LDL), triglycerides, total cholesterol, improves cholesterol/HDL ratio, increases good cholesterol such as HDL (high density of lipoproteins), reduce peripheral vascular resistance, improves microcirculation, reduces blood coagulability by increasing the levels of endogenous tissue plasminogen activators and prostaglandins such as PGI and reducing prostaglandin F2 alpha. Moderate regular exercise increases the cardiac output (the amount of blood pumped by the heart each contraction).


Thus one can achieve following Health Benefits by Moderate Regular Exercise:

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  1. Healthy Heart – Reduces the risk of heart attack
  2. Reduce Blood Pressure
  3. Decrease formation of blood clots
  4. Healthy Brain – Reduces the risk of stokes
  5. Healthy Lung – Improve the lung compliance
  6. Healthy Bones – Prevent osteoporosis
  7. Healthy Muscles – By improving muscle tone
  8. Healthy Joints – By improving flexibility
  9. Healthy Mind – By improving feeling of welbeing, self confidence, enhancing the will power, tranquility of mind with dynamism
  10. Healthy cholesterol – By increasing Good Cholesterol – HDL (High Density Lipoprotein) and decreasing Bad Cholesterol LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein) and TG (Triglycerides)
  11. Healthy sex – improves sexual performance, by improving circulation in the plavic region and increase feeling of vitality
  12. Healthy appetite
  13. Perfect digestion
  14. Perfect sleep
  15. Prevents, reverses and regresses aging
  16. Enhances fitness
  17. Enhances stress management potential
  18. Improves relationships with friends and family
  19. Enhances productivity
  20. Enhances physical, mental, social, spiritual and environmental welbeing
  21. Improves endurance
  22. Improves stamina
  23. Enhances the neovascularization
  24. Enhances collateral circulation
  25. Enhances the number of mitochondria
  1. Reduces Body fat.

Hazards of not exercising

There is a nice ancient saying “Use it or lose it”. This holds true for our physical body and as well as our mental capacities. Exercise has direct impact on our physical or mental health. It was well documented in one of the study of London that heart attacks are more amongst bus drives as compared to bus conductors, postmasters as compared to postman. The incident of heart attack is reduce by 50% by those who exercise regularly and mortality reduce by 30% were engaged in regular moderate exercise program. Sedentary habits and lack of exercise give arise to a new emerging syndrome throughout the world called as – Metabolic syndrome, Cardiac Metabolic syndrome (syndrome X), Insulin Resistance Syndrome, Reaven’s syndrome, Deadly Quartet Syndrome, Civilization Syndrome, New World Syndrome, CHAOS Syndrome as per ATP III and WHO, this syndrome has high mobility and mortality due to faulty lifestyle specially lack of exercise and faulty eating habits. This syndrome is characterize by Pot Belly where abdominal girth is more than 40“ in men and more than 36” in women, levels of triglycerides are more than 150 mg%, HDL less than 50 mg%, in women and less than 40 mg% in men Glucose intolerance and hypertension. It may also be associated with increased levels of uric acid, polycistic ovaries, Insulin Resistance and Endothelial dysfunction etc. When healthy men were assigned to bed rest for few weeks as an experiment, it was noticed that they suffered rapid deterioration of their cardio vascular and respiratory functions.

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Following are the risks of not exercisin

  1. Premature Heart attacks.
  2. Premature High blood pressure.
  3. Premature Diabetes.
  4. Premature strokes (paralysis).
  5. High bad cholesterol such as high LDL, TG etc.
  6. Low good cholesterol (HDL).
  7. Polycystic ovaries.
  8. Osteoporosis (low bone density, increasing tendency for bone fracture).
  9. Osteoarthritis (joints stiffness).
  10. Muscles stiffness.
  11. Ligaments stiffness.
  12. Lack of vitality.
  13. Tendency for deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which can lead to a potentially lethal disease – pulmonary embolism.
  14. Insulin Resistance.
  15. Glucose intolerance.
  16. Abnormalities in Carbohydrate fat and lipid metabolism.
  17. Increase tendency towards potentially fatal cardiac metabolic syndrome.
  18. Premature atherosclerosis (Hardning of the arteries)
  19. Low productivity, more depression, low self-esteem etc.


Hazards of unaccustomed exercise

Unaccustomed Exercise or Excessive physical training is Hazardous as it gives rise to higher incidence of arthritis, hypertension, heart attacks and sudden cardiac death. In USA professional athletes don’t live as long as an average American. The life expectancy on an average in football player is somewhere in late fifties as compared to average American which in the late seventies. Sudden deaths are well documented while doing strenuous exercise or unaccustomed exercise. Dr. Paul Thompson reported that one death per year occurred in every 7,620 joggers. Death rate during jogging was estimated seven times more than during sedentary activities. The risk of sudden death was particularly high for men who were unaccustomed to physical activity. Moderate exercise, like walking helps protect against the risk of sudden cardiac death or risk of injury. Over exercising create lots of health hazard. Unaccustomed exercise such as starting jogging protocol for the first time after the age thirty, pushing a car, participating in vigorous exercise program, changing wheels of a car, exercising in extremes of weather are hazardous.


The recommendation is one should exercise in a moderate manner right from the childhood, boy or girl, man or woman, young or old, everyone should exercise according to the need and recommendations and not in a unaccustomed manner. Optimum exercise may help you to be healthier, happier and more dynamic in life.

Exercise and special situations

  1. Exercise and smoking – Smoking after exercise or exercise after smoking both are harmful. Smoking reduces blood’s oxygen carrying capacity and narrows coronary arteries, which supply blood to the heart. Thus may lead to angina (chest pain) or may precipitate heart attack.


  1. Exercise and alcohol – Alcohol after exercise or exercise after alcohol consumption are hazardous. It may precipitate heart arrhythmias or accelerate hypertension.


  1. Exercise and hot weather – Extremely hot weather greatly reduces your exercise tolerance and may produce heat cramps, dehydration and heat stroke. This is to when it is humid because humidity makes your body difficult to cool itself as sweating, evaporates less readily. It is therefore recommended to exercise for a very short duration with less intensity and allow your body more time to warm and cool down and drink more fluids preferably water before during and after exercise to ensure efficient body’s cooling system.


  1. Exercise and cold weather – In cold weather the arteries (blood channels) narrows thereby increase workload on the heart, it may precipitate angina (heart pain), heart attack or accelerate hypertension. Cold weather may also cause frostbite or hypothermia. You must wear a hat and gloves to protect yourself.


  1. After illness – Avoid exercising when you are ill especially when you have fever. Exercise may exacerbate the illness. Start exercises only when you are completely recovered.
  2. Exercise and high altitude – Higher you go, less oxygen is available to breath. Individuals with incipient coronary artery disease may experience angina (chest pain) while exercise at high altitude. It is therefore recommended to decrease both intensity and duration of exercise at high altitude. If you want to exercise above 8 thousand feet please consult your doctor first.


  1. Exercise after meals – Heavy meal diverts blood toward the stomach for digestion of the food. If you exercise after heavy meal it may precipitate angina, as the blood supply to the heart is already less. It is therefore recommended not to exercise after meals.


  1. Exercise and fatigue – Don’t over exercise upto the level of fatigue. It may adversely strain your heart.


  1. Injuries and other warning signs – Exercise with awareness listen to your body before during after exercise. If you experience dizziness, giddiness, blackout, unexplained inappropriate heavy sweating, unusual shortness of breath or choking, feeling of palpitation or “Missed Beats”, chest pain or pain in the arms, jaw or back during exercise then take rest and consult your doctor.


  1. Exercise after heart attack, PTCA, CABG, Pacemaker implantation, AICD implantation. A cardiologist should recommend exercise protocol. Similarly exercise after orthopedic injury or paralysis should be recommended by the specialist concern.


  1. Exercise and medication – Exercise when the drug levels are constant and at their peak levels to avoid undue strain over the heart.


  1. Exercise and diabetes – Physical activity has insulin like effect on the body. Therefore one should be aware of hypoglycermic symptoms (low blood sugar) during exercise and immediately afterwards. These hypoglycermic symptoms may be dizziness, hunger and weakness. Therefore it is recommended that you should monitor your blood sugar before and after activity and modify your insulin dose accordingly. Avoid exercising at times of peak insulin response.


  1. Exercise and hypertension – Although exercise raise your blood pressure while you exercise, however regular exercise lower your blood pressure rest of a time. Regular exercise helps prevent high blood pressure. Blood pressure medications some times alter individual’s blood pressure response to exercise.


  1. Blood pressure and COPD – Individuals with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) should be screened by lung specialist before beginning an exercise program.


  1. Exercise and arthritis – If you have osteoarthritis, avoid any exercise that produces excessive stress on your affected joints. However exercise is important to increase and maintain flexibility, range of motion and strength in a joint. You can do only aerobic exercises and break it into smaller segments.
  2. Peripheral vascular disease – Individuals who have peripheral vascular disease must have daily activities because they develop leg pains (claudication) during exercise. Regular aerobic exercise will often help to increase the time they can exercise before getting claudication. You may do aerobic exercise for 20 – 30 minutes such as cycling, swimming or walking at a slow pace.


  1. Exercise and spine problem – If you have cervical spondolysis or cervical disc prolapse then don’t indulge in vigorous neck movement exercise or strenuous flexion and extention excercises of neck. It may aggravate giddiness. Yoga postures cannot be practiced by every individual. Therefore, skilled yoga teacher from a yoga academy should be utilized for health friendly yoga postures on individual basis. Indiscriminate use of yoga posture may be hazardous. One should use thin pillows. If you have lumbarspondolysis or lumbar discprolapse then do not indulge in jogging or forward or backward or sideward spine movement exercises. Do not travel in any vehicle which produces jerky moment and strain in the spine.


  1. Exercise and knee problem – If you have significant osteoarthritis of the knee joint then cycling is a good exercise for you and avoid strenuous knee exercises.


The Yoga asanas are excellent form of stretching exercises, which tones up the muscles. The bending and stretching provides a kind of internal massage, which improves the functioning of vital organs and also produce the feeling of tranquility of mind. Besides Yoga asanas, regular meditation, dietary optimization with more fruits vegetables, nuts, milk and milk products, regular massage with optimize oil are excellent for health and longevity.


Live longer and live younger with regular yogic practices and create productivity, development and world peace.


“Path of Yoga is Path to Moksha and Path to Nirvana”.



Dr. H.K. Chopra                                                                                            

President, World Wellness Foundation

President , Cardiological Society of India-2015

Co- Chairman Health Committee, ASSOCHAM

President, World Heart Academy

AHA India Head

Sr. Consultant Cardiologist, Moolchand Medcity,, New Delhi

Org. Chairman, WCCPCI-2015

Hon. Editor, STEMI Update 2015

Hon, Editor, CSI Cardiology Update 2014 Hon. Editor, Heart Protection Book Hon, Editor, Text Book of Cardiology Formerly Editor, Indian Heart Journal & JIAE

Member, Editorial Board EHJ, ARJ

Co- Chairman Health Committee, SCOPE

Trustee WASS

F-16, Kalkaji, New Delhi-110019. India

E-mail ID

Mobile No. 9811090204

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the above article are solely those of the author/agency in his/her private capacity and do not represent the views of Medical Dialogues.

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