(HealthDay News) — People randomly assigned to yoga classes saw improvements in their weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol, similar to the health benefits of conventional exercise such as brisk walking. These research findings, the result of a review of trials, were reported online December 15 in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.

“This finding suggests that [people] who are physically limited in some way do not have to ‘pound the pavement’ in order to improve their cardiovascular risk profile,” Paula Chu, a doctoral candidate at Harvard University’s Health Policy Program in Boston, told HealthDay.

The trials in the review varied in the types of yoga tested – as well as the frequency of classes and the people involved. Some studies included healthy people in their 20s, while others focused on older adults or people with heart risk factors like high blood pressure. On average, people who practiced yoga cut five points from their blood pressure, and 12 points from their low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. They also lost an average of five pounds.

“Of course,” Chu added, “not all types of yoga are suitable for every population. Individuals may want to consult their doctor before embarking on an exercise plan, or talk to a professional about the right style of yoga for them.”

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