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Surprising Effects of Doing Yoga, Says Science

Improving your flexibility and losing weight are just the tip of the iceberg.

Whether you're an avid trail runner or love hitting the heavy weights in the gym, there's no denying that getting regular physical activity is great for your health. However, when it comes to improving your wellbeing from the inside out, there's one particular workout that stands out from the pack: yoga.

However, it's more than just flexibility you'll gain when you add some asanas to your daily routine.

Read on to discover the surprising effects of doing yoga, according to science. And for more ways to improve your health and wellbeing, check out The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.

Yoga may benefit people with cognitive impairments

Moody aged man feeling unhappy.

Whether you find your memory lagging or simply want to keep your mind sharp, practicing yoga on a regular basis may be able to help you stay cognitively fit as you age.

A 2019 meta-analysis published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry found that yoga helped improve cognitive functioning among individuals with mild cognitive impairments or dementia, especially in terms of attention and verbal memory.

RELATED: One Incredible Side Effect of Doing Yoga, Says New Study

Yoga may improve your memory

A thoughtful-looking young woman at home

It's not just individuals with dementia and other cognitive impairments who may benefit from a few sun salutations, though.

A 2019 study published in Brain Plasticity found that regular yoga practice was associated with changes to practitioners' prefrontal cortexes—an area of the brain associated with working memory—and that there was "promising early evidence that yoga practice can positively impact brain health."

Yoga may reduce your risk of heart disease

man in home doing modified plank on yoga mat in living room
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Heart disease is the number one cause of death both in the U.S. and globally but practicing yoga regularly may be able to help lower your risk of the condition. A 2014 review of research published in the Indian Heart Journal found that yoga may help reduce factors associated with cardiovascular disease (CVD), including BMI and blood pressure. "Yoga appears to be especially beneficial for primary and secondary prevention of CVD," the review's authors concluded.

RELATED: How to Eat Before Yoga Class for Peak Performance

Yoga may help relieve arthritis symptoms

Old woman stretching numb arm, weakness of muscles in senior age, arthritis

If you have arthritis that's affecting your physical ability to complete daily tasks, adding some yoga to your regular routine may help. A 2020 meta-analysis published in Frontiers in Medicine: Rheumatology found that, among 840 rheumatoid arthritis sufferers between 30 and 70, yoga helped improve "physical function, disease activity, and grip strength."

Yoga may help relieve stress

relaxed woman

That relaxed feeling you notice after yoga class could have long-term benefits for your overall mental health.

According to a 2020 study published in JAMA Psychiatry, among a group of 226 adults with generalized anxiety disorder, practicing Kundalini yoga for 12 weeks was found to be an effective means of reducing their stress.

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Sarah Crow
Sarah Crow is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, where she focuses on celebrity news and health coverage. Read more about Sarah
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