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Yoga does not count as cardio but provides many other health benefits.
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Bikram yoga provides plenty of health perks, but cardio is not one of them. Most exercises are divided into two varieties: strength training, also called muscle building, and cardiovascular activity. Yoga falls under the former variety, and thus comes with a different set of benefits. To get a true cardio workout, participate in a rhythmic activity that uses a major muscle group and raises heart and breathing rates for 10 minutes or longer. Jogging, rowing and cycling, for example, all provide cardio.
Bikram and Cardio
Performed in a hot, humid room, Bikram involves an intense series of yoga poses and breathing techniques. Although the workout is tough -- and may even get your heart beating faster -- it doesn't improve aerobic fitness like cardio. In a study published in the "Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research" in 2013, researchers monitored two groups of young adults; one group performed Bikram three times weekly for eight weeks, while the other group did not. By the end of the study, the researchers had found no differences in either group in terms of maximal aerobic fitness or cardiovascular measures.
Bikram and Health
Despite the lack of aerobic benefits, Bikram is a healthy activity that comes with its own rewards. It helps you gain control over your body and mind, encouraging deeper relaxation. It also reduces stress, according to MayoClinic.com, and elevates your overall mood. Bikram will improve flexibility, allowing you greater range of motion for sports or everyday activities. And one of the most important benefits of yoga is improved balance -- with greater posture and stability, you'll be less likely to hurt yourself with falls or other accidents. Perform Bikram or other strength training at least two times per week.
Yoga may have your strength training covered, but you need to spend even more time on cardio exercise, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. Cardio activities help reduce blood pressure and high cholesterol levels and decrease your risk of chronic conditions including high blood sugar. ACSM recommends 30 to 60 minutes of moderate cardio five days per week, or 20 to 60 minutes of vigorous cardio three days per week. Test your intensity level with your voice: During moderate cardio you can speak comfortably but not sing well, while during vigorous cardio you must catch your breath after several words.
Bikram is for advanced exercisers, so see your doctor before participating if you don't work out now or you have any health issues. In particular, Bikram may not be safe for those with heart disease or hydration problems, or anyone who has suffered heat-related illnesses in the past. Bikram will make you sweat heavily, so show up with a large bottle of cold water.