Before you can prove yoga keeps you fit, you must first define what "fitness" actually means. Ask eight different physiologists, and you'll hear eight different definitions, says Dave Costill, Ph. Now professor emeritus of exercise science at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, Costill defines fitness simply as the ability to live your life without feeling fatigued."For normal daily living you don't need the strength of a football player or the endurance of a marathon runner, but you've got to be able to perform your normal activities and still have a reserve," says Costill.This method works best for athletes and others with little visible body fat.For those with more body fat, a more accurate method is hydrostatic weighing—being weighed while submerged in water and comparing the result to your out-of-water weight.Even physiologists who don't do yoga now agree that the practice provides benefits well beyond flexibility and relaxation.Recent research—though preliminary—shows that yoga may also improve strength, aerobic capacity, and lung function. But if, like Schumacher, you've been told by friends, family, doctors, or even other yoga students that you need to add some power walking for your heart or strength training for your muscles, here's evidence that yoga is all you need for a fit mind and body. researchers to rigorously test the health and fitness benefits of exercise.Because fat floats, the greater the difference between your submerged and dry weights, the higher your body fat percentage.Experts have long recommended that we do at least three different types of activity to achieve optimum cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness, flexibility, and body composition.
Loss of flexibility may also be associated with an increased risk of pain and injury.For example, the ACSM recommends building cardiorespiratory fitness by exercising at an intensity that raises your heart rate to at least 55 percent of your maximum heart rate (the highest rate you can maintain during all-out effort, generally estimated as 220 minus your age); muscular fitness by targeting each major muscle group with eight to 12 repetitions of weight-bearing exercise; and flexibility by stretching.4 Reasons to Breathe Right No one argues against yoga's ability to satisfy the flexibility requirement.As he expected, Schumacher tested near the top of his age group for a variety of fitness tests, including maximum heart and exercise recovery rates.His doctor told him that he was in excellent physical condition and estimated that Schumacher had less than a one percent chance of suffering a cardiac event.