Two girls doing yoga fitness

Yoga and fitness

Two girls doing yoga fitnessCan yoga really keep you fit? That’s a question a lot of people ask their yoga instructor. Some believe yoga can indeed keep you fit, while others say that yoga is good for flexibility and relaxation. Most people think that you need to practice yoga alongside another sport such as running or weight lifting to be fit. Some studies and test have shown that yoga’s ability to bolster fitness is quite possible.

To be sure the comparison is correct you actually need more than just a few studies. Although the results prove that yoga can be beneficial for a good body. You still need to exercise every day in order to get that body. Another research about yoga also proved that yoga can improve strength, improve heart function and lung function. If you practice yoga, you already knew that. But let’s all take a closer look to the differences between Yoga and Fitness and base our conclusion on facts.

What Is Fitness?

If you want to know if yoga is really keeping you fit, you need to know first what fitness is and what it does to your body.  Someone who is physically fit has a lean build and a healthy diet. Being fit is a lifestyle where you eat healthy and exercise daily. It goes much further than going to the gym to lift some weight or running a quarter mile. Being fit means, the heart, lungs, and blood vessels are in top condition and good health. Because of this good health you won’t feel winded or fatigued and have the maximal oxygen uptake. The fitter you are the better oxygen is transported to all parts of your body.

Types of Fitness:

  1. Cardiorespiratory fitness helps lung function and heart function are at its best when you are cardiorespiratory fit. Regular exercise helps the respiratory systems efficient and enlarges the heart muscle. Due to exercise more blood is pumped with each stroke this increases the number of small arteries. Also it is shown that exercise can improve the respiratory system and increases the amount of oxygen you inhale and distribute to your body tissue. The benefits of cardiorespiratory fitness are a lot to summon but the most important ones are: reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke.  Reducing the risk for lung cancer, diabetes and other diseases.
  2. Muscular fitness is the capacity of muscle strength and muscle endurance. The older we get, the weaker our muscles become. Weakness and loss in the muscles can result in loss of balance and coordination. In a lab, researchers test your muscle strength and endurance on specialized equipment that looks like an exercise machine at a gym but contains sensors that read how much force your muscles generate as they contract.
  3. Flexibility fitness is when the muscles are very flexible, this can be achieved through daily routine exercise. Age can shorten your muscles and cause loss of flexibility

Body composition

In order to know how fit you are you will have to check your body composition, body composition is the percentage of your body fat and muscles. Body composition is calculated in several ways. One of the most used ways to calculate body composition is with a pair of calipers, these are used to pinch the skin and underlying fat at various spots on the body. For athletes and people with little visible body fat this method will work the best. For people with more body fat the hydrostatic weighing is the best way to calculate body composition. This method is done in water, you will be weighed while submerged in water and afterwards your weight will be compared with the result of your out-of-water weight. Fat floats so that’s why there will be a big difference between the in water and out water weight. To be both muscular and cardiorespiratory fit you need to combine activity and exercise which trains the flexibility and body composition. With fitness you can acquire both.

Putting Yoga to the Test:

Because most people think yoga is more of meditation, researchers decided to put yoga to the test. They took 10 students and decided to examine if yoga can make your body as fit as fitness. The test was to check cardiorespiratory fitness, flexibility, body composition and muscular strength and endurance. Also checked were lung function and heart beat function during the test. Every week the subjects were scheduled for 10 minutes pranayama, 15 minutes warm-up exercises and 50 minutes of asanas and finally 10 minutes of meditation. Results began to show after 8 weeks. Muscular strength increased rapidly and as much as 31 percent. The muscular endurance increased 57 percent but also flexibility and cardiorespiratory increased enormously. The study was scheduled for 8 weeks and proved a success. Which means, yoga can also get you the fit body you prefer.

Why Yoga Works:

There are different explanations why yoga works. It’s actually very simple, muscles respond to stretching and become larger and capable of extracting. By doing this the body uses more oxygen quicker and this leads to increased muscle strength and endurance. Because of this the person can exercise longer and extract more oxygen to ultimately reach maximal oxygen uptake. But beside this explanation there is also another explanation saying that yoga poses can increase lung capacity this is done by improving the flexibility of the rib area and the shoulders and back. This allows the lungs to fully expand. But also the controlled breathing helps boost lung capacity which leads to maximal oxygen uptake. Another yoga exercise which is highly praised to increase heart rate and maximal oxygen uptake is the Suryanamaskar or sun salutations. This is one of the continuously linked poses which make yoga a bit more challenging than most think it is. But also the balance poses and the other standing poses build up strength. This is because they require concentration and ultimate strength of all muscles small and large. The longer you hold the poses the more you increase your muscle strength. Also it proves that when you bring your breath, awareness and physical body into harmony, your body will allow you to work at its maximum fitness capacity.

Which yoga poses should you do to stay fit?

Now we know that yoga can surely make you fit, but how fit you will get, will surely be depended on how much of a day routine it is. Because to effectively see results you will have to exercise two to four days a week for at least an hour. During these yoga sessions you need to focus on meditation, breathing and typical yoga poses. The asanas used in these studies are not only the Sun Salutations sequence. But the Warrior Pose, Tree Pose, Triangle Pose, Downward-Facing Dog, Boat Pose, Planks and Bridge Pose are all part of the routine while exercising. Only then will you get the most out of your yoga practice. Because these poses will not only give you physical fitness but also mental fitness. Don’t forget to include breath work and meditation into your routine as well. This in order to help develop body awareness. In particular, include a series of standing poses in your practice. Exercising for 15 minutes a day and only doing some yoga stretches won’t keep you fit, but adding these asanas to your work out will surely make a difference. Keep in mind that it is only effective if you practice yoga for more than two hours a week.

What does yoga offer extra?

Beside keeping you fit, yoga offers other nice things as well, it reduces your stress level, improves your health, boosts your career, sleep, relationship and overall look on life. Most people think that practicing yoga is very light and will not challenge them, but that’s far from the truth. Even fitness role model Stephany Griffin is now a fanatic yoga practitioner. If you want an exercise where physical fitness is combined with emotional and spiritual well-being than yoga is your best choice. The fun part is, that the benefits are great and anyone can practice them. It’s also a proven fact that Yoga can help cope with stress and heart problems, immune system problems and depression. This is because yoga also focuses on healing the mind. This automatically results in physical fitness, and a fit body.

What are the effects of yoga?

When practiced yoga on daily basis the fitness of the muscles are exercised by stretching and relaxing. This improves breathing and blood circulation and develops stronger muscles, and consequently stronger body. It makes the body resistant to illnesses. The asanas, or physical poses, enhance the circulation of blood and fluids to different parts of the body. Its breathing exercises improve the function of the lungs, and it also calms the mind. People who practice it regularly become less dependent on medication for their fitness. Though all this may sound very appealing, one must remember that yogs’s positive effects do star to show overnight. They are felt in the long run, and even patients can start feeling healthier than ever before.


Article written by: kimmetje
Times read: 3251x
Added: 21-09-2015 22:15
Last modified: 23-09-2015 13:22

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