To lower a number of compounds in the blood and reduce the level of inflammation that normally rises, incorporating yoga sessions in your daily routine could cut both normal aging and stress, revealed a new study.
Conducted by Ohio State University researchers, the study showed that women who routinely practiced yoga had lower amounts of the cytokine interleukin-6 (IL-6) in their blood.
The women also showed smaller increases in IL-6 after stressful experiences than did women who were the same age and weight but who were not yoga practitioners.
IL-6 is an important part of the body's inflammatory response and has been implicated in heart disease, stroke, type-2 diabetes, arthritis and a host of other age-related debilitating diseases.
Reducing inflammation may provide substantial short- and long-term health benefits, the researchers suggest.
"In addition to having lower levels of inflammation before they were stressed, we also saw lower inflammatory responses to stress among the expert yoga practitioners in the study," explained Dr. Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, professor of psychiatry and psychology and lead author of the study.
"Hopefully, this means that people can eventually learn to respond less strongly to stressors in their everyday lives by using yoga and other stress-reducing modalities," she added.
For the study, researchers assembled a group of 50 women, age 41 on average.
Ron Glaser, a co-author and a professor of molecular virology, immunology and medical genetics, said that the study has some fairly clear implications for health.
"We know that inflammation plays a major role in many diseases. Yoga appears to be a simple and enjoyable way to add an intervention that might reduce risks for developing heart disease, diabetes and other age-related diseases. This is an easy thing people can do to help reduce their risks of illness," he said.
The study was published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine.