Hatha Yoga as a Form of Physical Activity in the Context of Lifestyle Disease Prevention

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Abstract

Physical activity is interrelated with health, physical fitness, and quality of life. The role physical activity plays in the context of lifestyle disease prevention is indisputable. Physical exercises of yoga (hatha yoga) are a type of recreational physical activity classified as a form of body and mind fitness. Hatha yoga training consists of slow or fast and smooth entering into, holding, and exiting yoga postures called “asanas”. Besides asanas, a yoga class may also include breathing exercises (pranayama) and relaxation exercises. The aim of this paper is to analyse the benefits of regular hatha yoga training in the light of scientific studies in regard to primary and secondary prevention of lifestyle diseases (cardiovascular diseases, respiratory system diseases, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and diseases of the musculoskeletal system in particular). The results of the analysis revealed that regular hatha yoga training including pranayama (breathing exercises) produced a reduction in blood pressure and heart rate, improved respiratory functions, decreased blood glucose levels and body mass, as well as improving functional fitness and self-perceived quality of life. Therefore, hatha yoga as a form of physical activity can be a useful intervention for primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular diseases, respiratory system diseases, metabolic diseases, and diseases of the musculoskeletal system, including back pain.

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