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Yoga May Also Calm a Dangerous Irregular Heartbeat
Date:4/3/2011

of 2.1 episodes of atrial fibrillation as compared to an average of 3.8 episodes occurring the three months prior to the start of classes, when they were exercising but not yet doing yoga.

"Advanced yogis for a long time have disproven the idea that heart rate that automatically determined by physiological need," noted Dr. Scott Shurmur, director of preventive cardiology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. "We know that meditation, yoga etc, really do provide some conscious altering of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. This is the first time I've seen results on atrial fibrillation and its tangible evidence."

"Absolutely, yoga can play a role in the management of atrial fibrillation," says Dr. Louis Teichholz, medical director of the cardiac service and chief of complementary medicine at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey, who points to the breathing component of yoga -- especially Prana yoga -- as the key ingredient.

"If they had studied heart rate variability, they would have shown this decreases sympathetic nervous system activity," he said. "That comes with fear and fright. A sudden burst of adrenaline in a susceptible individual will trigger arrhythmia."

A second study being presented at the meeting backed up the value of exercise in general for heart health.

Texas researchers report that a lifetime of regular exercise keeps the human heart flexible and strong, well over retirement age.

In fact, long-term exercise actually preserves heart muscle mass, keeping it at the same level as a sedentary person aged 25 to 34, the team estimated.

In the study, people over the age of 65 who reported having exercised consistently over their lifetime actually managed to preserve left ventricular mass. The left ventricle of the heart is involved in pumping and normally gets smaller as you age.

The folks in this study had exercised six or seven times a week as adults but the
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