Regular exercise is good for the heart and circulation, there is no doubt about that. A new study now shows how you can further increase the health-promoting effect of exercise. Proper cool down is key.

Sport makes you fit, healthy and beautiful – numerous studies have shown that. The right warm-up and cool-down is at least as important as the training itself. While the former prepares the body for the upcoming training session, the latter initiates the end of the training session, slowly cooling down the body and muscles and thus preventing muscle tension. In addition, it can speed up recovery and bring down the mind, breathing and cardiovascular system.

There are many ways to design the cool down. A recent study from Canada shows which movement is best for cooling down – and has been shown to have a positive effect on blood pressure and heart health.

As part of their study, the researchers compared the effect of yoga with that of a conventional stretching session. The aim was to find out whether the flexibility exercises practiced in yoga alone are the reason for the positive effects of the cool-down – or whether yoga explicitly has other health benefits in store.

To do this, they examined 60 test persons suffering from high blood pressure and metabolic syndrome over a period of three months. During the three months, the test persons completed an exercise program five days a week. One group of subjects ended the 30-minute aerobic training session with 15 minutes of yoga, while the other group completed a conventional stretching program.

The two groups of subjects were put together in such a way that they were almost the same in terms of age, gender and state of health. There were no noticeable differences in smoking rate, BMI, measured resting systolic and diastolic blood pressure, pulse pressure, or resting heart rate.

At the beginning and end of the study period, the scientists analyzed body measurements, blood pressure, the so-called C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) in the blood of the test subjects, and the glucose and lipid levels. hs-CRP is increasingly produced in the body during inflammation. In addition, they determined the individual risk of heart attack, heart disease and stroke using the so-called Framingham and Reynolds risk scores. These estimate the risk of developing coronary heart disease (CHD) over a period of ten years.

The results after three months:

The systolic blood pressure measures the pressure at the heartbeat, i.e. when the heart muscle contracts and pumps blood into the vessels.

The results support previous studies that show a connection between yoga and heart health and blood pressure. It is still unclear which mechanisms trigger the positive effects of yoga. With their investigation, however, the Canadian researchers provide the important insight that it is not just stretching that makes yoga so healing, but also certain movement sequences or breathing exercises that cannot be found in conventional cool-down units.

Need more reasons to start yoga? We have summarized six other benefits of yoga practice for you, which should motivate you to start exercising now: