Study: Aerial Yoga Offers Benefits Similar to Some Aerobic Exercise

Aerial yoga offers many of the benefits associated with low- to moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, the American Council on Exercise (ACE), San Diego, announced last week.

ACE commissioned researchers at Western State Colorado University to evaluate the health effects of a single aerial yoga session and a six-week aerial yoga intervention. Aerial yoga uses circus hammocks to lift participants off the floor and enable them to achieve traditional yoga poses and align the body midair.

Even though aerial yoga does not include traditional cardio exercises, a single session did provide many of the same benefits associated with exercise such as brisk walking or leisurely cycling, said ACE Chief Science Officer Cedric X. Bryant.

"After the six week program, participants displayed measurable reductions in some common risk factors for cardiovascular heart disease," he said.

The researchers, led by Dr. Lance C. Dalleck, recruited 16 apparently healthy and physically active female volunteers between the ages of 18 and 45 to participate in a six-week intervention with three 50-minute aerial yoga sessions per week. Before the study, common indicators of cardiovascular and metabolic health of participants were measured, including body weight, body-fat percentage, resting and maximal heart rate and oxygen uptake, blood pressure and waist circumference. The study evaluated participants’ physiological responses to a single session, as well as the broader health effects of the six-week intervention. 

The study revealed that a single 50-minute session of aerial yoga burned an average of 320 calories and yielded cardiovascular effects in the range of low- to moderate-intensity exercise. After the six-week aerial yoga program, participants experienced significant improvements in several health risk factors such as body weight, body-fat percentage and blood pressure. The combined improvements in these risk factors suggest that participants reduced their risk for a cardiovascular heart disease event, such as a heart attack, by approximately 10 percent over the course of the six-week intervention.

“This study indicates that aerial yoga offers people another effective option for achieving enhanced health and wellness,” Bryant added. “The more forms of exercise we can validate through research, the better the chances that people can find an effective form of exercise they enjoy, which improves adherence and leads to improved overall health.”