Yoga Equally Effective as Low-Sodium Diet for Hypertension

July 2012 by

Yoga Equally Effective as Low-Sodium Diet for Hypertension

Yoga is equally as effective as a low-sodium diet for hypertension in young adults, but brisk walking is even more effective, according to a study from Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education in India.



Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, “is the most prevalent non-communicable disease causing significant morbidity and mortality.” In the U.S., about 30 percent of adults have hypertension and another 30 percent have prehypertension, according to the Centers for Disease Control. A well-known way to try to control hypertension naturally is starting a low-sodium diet, but doing exercise, such as yoga and walking might also help you lower your blood pressure. If you have hypertension, get approval from your physician before embarking on an exercise program.


Hypertensive Young Adults

The researchers selected 94 hypertensive and pre-hypertensive women and men, between the ages of 21 and 25, to examine the affect non-pharmaceutical interventions for hypertension. Collectively, their original blood pressure readings were between 126 and 132 mmHg for systolic – the top number – and between 78 and 81 mmHg for diastolic – the bottom number.


Low-Sodium vs. Yoga vs. Walking

The researchers split the participants into three groups, plus one control group, for this eight-week study. The yoga group participated in a yoga class consisting of pranayama breathing exercises and asanas for 30 to 45 minutes per day, five days per week. The exercise group walked briskly for 50 to 60 minutes three or four days per week. The salt-reduction group cut their salt intake by half and received nutritional counseling.


Yoga for High Blood Pressure Study Results

According the researchers, “Yoga has been proven to be highly effective in reducing blood pressure by numerous Indian as well as international studies.” In this study, all three interventions significantly reduced the participants blood pressure readings. The results, published in the Indian Journal of Community Medicine show brisk walking was the most effective and reduced SBP by about 5.4 mmHg and DBP by about 6.1 mmHg. Yoga reduced SBP by about 2.3 mmHg and DBP by about 3.4 mmHg. The salt reduction diet reduced SBP by about 2.6 mmHg and DBP by about 2.0 mmHg.

*Unfortunately, no information on the specifics of the yoga class are available, either from the report or from the researchers — whom I contacted.


Reference for Yoga Equally Effective as Salt Reduction for Hypertension

1. Indian Journal of Community Medicine; Non-pharmacological Interventions in Hypertension: A Community-based Cross-over Randomized Controlled Trial; Hema Subramanian et al.; 2011

2. “High Blood Pressure Facts.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


“Yoga Equally Effective as Low-Sodium Diet for Hypertension” written by Victoria Weinblatt M.S.Ed., B.S., RYT-200 and CMT.


Feature photo courtesy of




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