Yoga is one of the most relaxing things on earth, but some types are more intense than others. Undoubtedly, yoga builds muscle, but an age-old debate questions whether you can count yoga as an exercise. So, what’s the verdict?
Yoga is a form of anaerobic exercise, but it isn’t at the same level as walking, running, or cycling because it doesn’t have as much cardiovascular intensity and calorie expenditure. Yoga counts as exercise because it involves physical activity and muscular strength.
Yoga uses your whole body, and while it may not be an intense exercise that leaves you breathless, it still gives you a workout. We’ll explore why yoga is considered exercise and why it may not be. Let’s settle the debate!
Reasons Why Yoga Counts As Exercise
According to Oxford Languages, exercise is a physical activity that sustains and improves health and fitness. It’s easy to see that yoga fulfills that definition because it requires you to move your entire body and has proven to contribute to overall health and wellness.
Yoga is over 5000 years old and started as a spiritual practice that has been modernized to become a common exercise. An estimated 300 million people worldwide practice yoga, and surely half believe it counts as exercise, but do you? These reasons may convince you.
Yoga Requires Physical Engagement
Physical activity is the most significant aspect of defining an exercise, and there’s zero doubt that yoga is a physical practice. Yoga incorporates your body in unique and wonderful ways that involve specific postures, called asanas, that stretch your body and require your muscles to give support.
In summary, yoga activates your muscles, involves joint movement, and aligns your body, which are all physical elements that constitute exercise.
Yoga Builds Muscular Strength And Endurance
Yoga requires you to engage and control your muscles to hold complex poses for extended periods, strengthening them in the process. By doing yoga often, you’ll notice increased strength and muscle tone, which is a common fitness goal.
In addition to strength, yoga increases muscle mobility, flexibility, and endurance to perform other physical exercises. Yoga is easily one of the best workouts to add to your regimen because the benefits carry over to other exercises. Yoga can also help you recover from workouts and injuries to enhance endurance.
Yoga Requires Flexibility and Range of Motion
It’s easy to recognize gymnastics as a sport, especially since it’s included in the Olympics. Gymnastics demands a great deal of flexibility and mobility, and the same can be said for yoga. Yoga involves stretching and elongating muscles, tendons, and ligaments, which results in improved flexibility and joint mobility.
Yoga has some complicated poses that take practice to get right, and that difficulty is similar to other flexibility sports, making it a comparable exercise.
Yoga Enhances Balance And Coordination
Yoga poses require balance and coordination to enhance stability and spatial awareness, which is integral to all exercise and overall physical fitness. With balance and coordination, you can sustain proper alignment and stability in the body, which contributes to joint health and complements everyday movement.
The point of exercise is to enhance mobility and overall wellness, and yoga ticks those boxes.
Yoga Has Cardiovascular Benefits
Although yoga doesn’t make your heart race like it would when running a marathon, there are still cardiovascular benefits to doing all those asanas. One of the primary aspects of yoga is controlled breathing, known as Pranayama. If you practice breathing enough, you can expand your lung capacity, lower blood pressure, and enhance blood circulation.
If you practice dynamic yoga such as Power or Ashtanga Yoga, you may experience similar cardiovascular benefits as regular anaerobic exercises like walking.
Yoga Has Long-Term Benefits
The main long-term benefits of exercise, in general, are improved cardiovascular health, muscular strength, endurance, flexibility, mobility, improved mental and brain health, reduced disease risks, higher energy levels, and a strengthened immune system. Yoga fulfills all these standard exercise advantages. The only department where yoga lacks ability is weight loss because yoga isn’t as effective as other exercises.
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Reasons Why Yoga Doesn’t Count As Exercise
Many firmly believe that yoga doesn’t count as exercise due to its slow-paced methodology, among other things. If you’re trying to settle the debate, yoga is an official exercise, but there are enough reasons to discredit it and deem it less effective than other forms of exercise.
Yoga Has Low Cardiovascular Intensity
Some gentle or restorative yoga styles don’t consistently elevate the heart rate to the level of more dynamic aerobic exercises like running or cycling. The lack of an elevated heart rate doesn’t suit those who prioritize cardiovascular fitness, as yoga lacks in this aspect.
As a response, many argue that more intense forms of yoga elevate your heart rate considerably. However, it is still insufficient in contributing to fitness and providing the same cardiovascular benefits as other exercises.
Yoga Doesn’t Expend Many Calories
Since a large part of the fitness industry is weight loss, yoga falls short of the mark because it doesn’t burn many calories. The general yoga calorie expenditure ranges between 180 and 460 calories per hour, depending on the type of yoga. This number is considerably low compared to up to 400 calories burned in a 20-minute HIIT session or 240 calories in a 30-minute cycle.
Muscle Building Is Limited
Since the only weight you use in yoga is your body, your muscle-building ability is limited. While it is worthwhile to mention that yoga can make you leaner than other exercises, it won’t help you to make those gains as you would in weightlifting or resistance training.
Yoga Focuses On Other Elements
Yoga is a holistic exercise that aims to engage your mind, body, and breath, which deviates from traditional exercise. Yoga was initially a spiritual practice in Hinduism but has been Westernized to become less spiritual. Many still honor original yoga roots and principles, making the exercise much more than a workout. The meditative and spiritual elements can make yoga seem like it’s not an exercise.
Some Forms Of Yoga Are Low Intensity
Gentle yoga practices like Restorative, Hatha, and Yin Yoga are extremely slow-paced to the point where the word exercise doesn’t accurately describe the practice. Many people even practice yoga before bed, so it’s safe to say that some types of yoga aren’t proper exercises.
Yoga Might Not Help You Achieve Fitness Goals
If you’re looking to shed fat, build mountainous muscles, or run 10 miles, yoga will not get you there. Although yoga reaps many benefits, it is a limited exercise, which can sometimes strip it from merit.
Yoga is considered an exercise due to its physical engagement, muscle-building ability, flexibility enhancement, cardiovascular advantages, and long-term benefits. Some say yoga doesn’t count because it’s slow-paced, doesn’t burn many calories, is limited, and is inherently spiritual. Although yoga is an exercise, it could be less effective than other forms, depending on your needs.