Is Yoga a Fat-Burner?

By Jennifer Sage On March 3, 2013 Under exercise science, General Fitness and Health

Yoga is such an amazing complement to cycling. I love what it does for my body in terms of alignment and flexibility, not to mention the mental benefits of relaxation and immersion into the breath. It’s a beautiful discipline with many benefits.

But a cardiovascular workout it is not, and anyone who tells you so is misinformed. Even Bikram, or other hot yoga classes in which you are bathed in a pool of sweat and can feel your heart rate in your chest during much of the class, are not going to burn many more calories than you would walking during that time. Martica Heaner, Ph.D., a Manhattan-based exercise physiologist and nutritionist, and an award-winning fitness instructor and health writer, has examined the claims that yoga is a fat-burning exercise in this MSN Healthy Living article.

Bam! There goes another popular but erroneous fitness myth! It seems silly that we need more studies to tell us what we already know to be true regarding how the body works. While our knowledge of exercise science is always in a state of flux and growth, many facts are indisputable. It is known how calories are burned, and how adaptations occur in a muscle—these are some of the most basic understandings of exercise science that haven’t been challenged in decades. We know that heart rate increases when the body warms up, and that the purpose of sweat is to cool the body down, especially in a very hot and humid environment. More sweat, contrary to popular opinion, does not mean a better workout or more calories or more fat being consumed. And that is true whether on a yoga mat or on a bike.

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