Newswise — Rockville, Md. (June 21, 2023)—Participating in hot yoga over four weeks reduced blood pressure in Black women, according to a study from Texas State University. Researchers also found the blood pressure drop and a widening of the participants’ arteries occurred despite three days of high salt intake. The study is published in the American Journal of Physiology-Heart and Circulatory Physiology and has been chosen as an APSselect article for June. 

This study represents the first step in uncovering new ways of preventing the harmful effects of high sodium diets which are highly prevalent in America culture.” —Stacy D. Hunter, PhD, FACSM 

While salt is consumed in excess by most adults in the U.S., Black Americans are disproportionately affected by its adverse effects. Black women between the ages of 20 and 50 are twice as likely as their white counterparts to have uncontrolled high blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association.   

In this first-of-its-kind study, 14 Black women ages 20 to 60 consumed a low-sodium diet for three days, followed by three days of a high-sodium diet. Next, participants were randomly assigned to four weeks of hot yoga (125.6 degrees Fahrenheit) or a control group in which they did not exercise. The results of blood pressure and flow-mediated dilation assessments indicated that this brief heated exercise intervention can alter the effects of salt on blood vessel function in Black adult women.

Researchers hope the findings of this study represent the initial steps to improving human health through the long-term practice of hot yoga. Study authors believe it’s possible yoga could prevent the effects of lifelong habitual high-sodium intake and possibly lower cardiovascular risks associated with the “highly prevalent dietary practice.” 

Read the full article, “Exploring heated exercise as a means of preventing the deleterious effects of high-sodium intake in Black women.” It is highlighted as one of this month’s “best of the best” as part of the American Physiological Society’s APSselect program. Read all of this month’s selected research articles

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Physiology is a broad area of scientific inquiry that focuses on how molecules, cells, tissues and organs function in health and disease. The American Physiological Society connects a global, multidisciplinary community of more than 10,000 biomedical scientists and educators as part of its mission to advance scientific discovery, understand life and improve health. The Society drives collaboration and spotlights scientific discoveries through its 16 scholarly journals and programming that support researchers and educators in their work.