New study finds this type of workout is best for fighting depression

You probably already know that yoga is amazing for your body. Yoga exercises can help you stretch out after sitting at a desk all day or get you warmed up for an intense HIIT workout. Yoga can help you improve your flexibility, reduce chronic pain, and can even help you sleep better.

Aside from the physical benefits, studies are beginning to support that fact that yoga is as beneficial for your mind as it is for your body. A recent study even found that yoga can be as good for strengthening brain networks as cardio exercise is.

A new review of studies is giving yogis even more reasons to rejoice. The review, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, found that yoga practice can have extreme benefits for those who suffer with mental health issues.

Practicing yoga can help reduce depressive symptoms

The review, done by researchers with the University of South Australia, conducted a meta-analysis of 180 studies across six countries. All of the 1,080 participants in the studies had a “formal diagnosis of a mental disorder, including depression and anxiety.”

The study defined yoga as “a multicomponent mind–body practice comprising physical postures, movement, breathing control and techniques, relaxation, mindfulness and meditation.”

Researchers found that mindfulness, meditation, and exercise are all effective in reducing depressive symptoms. As yoga combines these three key elements, the researchers believe that yoga practice has additional benefits beyond the practice of any one single component.

The study found that regularly practicing yoga had greater effects on depressive symptoms than no treatment or a patient’s usual treatment.

The data showed that participants’ moods were affected based on the amount of movement in their yoga practice. The more frequent and prolonged a participants practice, the greater mental benefits they saw. While all types of yoga were found to be beneficial, movement yoga, which requires participants to hold or flow through poses, had the greatest impact on mental health.

“Our research shows that movement-based yoga improved symptoms of depression (or improved mental health) for people living with a range of mental health conditions including anxiety, post-traumatic stress, and major depression,” said Jacinta Brinsley, lead researcher and University of South Australia Ph.D. candidate, in a news release.

Why now might be the perfect time for you to take up yoga

The global coronavirus pandemic is a physical health crisis, but experts have warned that the environment created by COVID-19 may turn it into a mental health crisis.

“As self-isolation escalates and people find themselves working from home and unable to physically catch up with their friends and family, we’re likely to see more people feel lonely and disconnected,” Brinsley said. “Exercise has always been a great strategy for people struggling with these feelings as it boosts both mood and health. But as gyms and exercise classes of all kinds are now closed – even jogging with a friend is strongly discouraged – people are looking for alternatives, and this is where yoga can help.”

Jennifer Fabiano is an SEO reporter at Ladders.