There have been quite a number of studies that show regular exercise improves stamina, but hardly any that evaluate the effect of yoga on stamina (perceived physical exertion). In a research project conducted at the Defense Institute of Physiology in Delhi, India, the effect of training in Hatha yogic exercises on aerobic capacity and stamina was performed on 40 young men who were recruited in the Indian army.
These soldiers, whose ages ranged from 19 to 23, initially worked out to maximal exercise capacity on a bicycle ergometer. The oxygen consumption, carbon dioxide output, pulmonary ventilation, respiratory rate, heart rate etc., at maximal exertion were immediately thereafter recorded. The subjects were then divided into two equal groups. One group practiced Hatha yogic exercises for 1 h every morning (6 days in a week) for six months.
The other group underwent conventional physical exercise training during the same period common to what many soldiers are required to do. In the 7th month, tests for perceived physical exertion were repeated on both groups of subjects. The results showed that those who engaged in daily yoga practice noticed that they did not get as tired after heavy physical exertion as those who just did regular exercises.
Their aerobic capacity also improved. Therefore, it appears that yoga enhances stamina even better than regular exercise. This would indicate that athletes in many different fields may well improve their endurance and performance by adding yoga practices to their routine workouts. Yoga can also be helpful for those who suffer from fatigue or low energy. I personally notice that regular yoga practice enhances my stamina in terms of how long I can hike, bike or dance.
Ray Sahelian, M.D. is the best selling author of Mind Boosters and The Stevia Cookbook. See his website at raysahelian.com for a free book and the latest updates on nutritional and herbal research.