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Gym Workout vs Yoga Workout - Which is best for staff wellbeing?

Updated: Jan 30




As this article is written by a yoga teacher, it’s safe to assume that the answer is YOGA IS BEST but it’s not a simple, binary answer. The reality is that exercise of pretty much any kind is better than no exercise at all and gym type workouts can be a really effective way to support wellbeing.


So is playing sports such as squash, tennis, football, rugby or running, cycling, rowing, boxing, etc, which can give you similar benefits. Of course there’s also the sheer fun of sport rather than always feeling a need to work towards achieving something. Remember those days?!


The numerous benefits of participating in sports and gym workouts include:


  • Weight loss/control

  • Body shape

  • Heart and lungs

  • Blood circulation

  • Strength and tone

  • Mood

  • Stamina/energy levels

  • Reduction in risk of major illnesses such as; heart disease, stroke, diabetes, even cancer, depression and dementia


With these valuable benefits, how is it be possible that I might believe yoga is even better for staff wellbeing?


The reason is quite simple: because yoga gives you a more comprehensive workout than a gym workout. In addition to the movement, stretching and cardiovascular work, there is

Unlike a gym workout, the focus in yoga is not just on training the body but also on training the mind. A strong, flexible body is a positive outcome of regular yoga practice, and it’s a by-product of also achieving a positive and resilient mind. Yoga equips you with tools to get the most from life through an overall balance of good physical and mental health.


Although longer, mat based classes are part of some clients’ staff wellbeing programmes, corporate yoga classes can be done in as little as 20 minutes, sitting at your desk. People don’t have to get changed out of their work clothes or get sweaty with colleagues, which means that more people are happy to participate.


This article doesn’t suggest there’s anything wrong with gym exercise, although injuries are more common, personal attention is less common, travel is usually involved, time commitment and cost can be high. On the other hand, yoga can be done by anyone, regardless of their age, fitness or physical ability. But it’s the scientifically proven benefits of corporate yoga across a wide range of metrics that inform my point of view that yoga is better.


Numerous research studies show how yoga and meditation improve sleep, reduce stress and inflammation, increase energy and focus. Other benefits, as quoted in just a few relevant papers include:


“Improved memory, learning and executive decision making.”

“Decreased stress, depression, anxiety, pain and insomnia.”

“Increased quality of life and grey matter.”

Harvard medical school


“Improved awareness, attention, memory.”

​“Alters brain structure to enhance cognitive function.”

​“Greater benefits than similar aerobic exercises.”

World Economic Forum


“Lower stress, anxiety and depression.”

​“Decreased heart rate, blood pressure, tension.”

​“Relaxation response can combat/manage stress.”

Middle Tennessee State University


A final thought about the benefits: what do the following elite sportspeople have in common?

· Messi, Ronaldo and Giggs

· Djokovic and Williams

· The All Blacks rugby team

· Shaq O’Neill and LeBron James


This is a small selection from a much longer list of top athletes who are supremely fit, spend hours a day in the gym but also turn to yoga. Why? Because it gives them MORE.


Many people find the gym a difficult place to exercise, me included, I can feel inhibited, uncomfortable in an atmosphere of competition and posturing, where I feel like I ought to be fit even before working out in front of muscle bound, sweaty gym bunnies!


You can do just 20 minutes of office yoga and see demonstrable results. You can do a yoga workout on your own, wherever you are (at home, at work, on holiday), at any time, at no cost. You just need to be pointed in the right direction by a good teacher.


If you want to enjoy the MORE that yoga can deliver, contact nick@nickyogameditation.co.uk


#Sources

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/12/191212105851.htm

https://www.greenmedinfo.com/therapeutic-action/yoga

https://www.ethnicity-facts-figures.service.gov.uk/health/diet-and-exercise/physical-inactivity/latest

https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/

https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/exercise-health-benefits/

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130410082426.htm

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/08/science-shows-yoga-may-protect-your-brain-in-old-age

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/inspired-life/wp/2015/05/26/harvard-neuroscientist-meditation-not-only-reduces-stress-it-literally-changes-your-brain/?utm_term=.f262d350cdc8

https://www.mtsu.edu/cala/documents/yoga_research_review.pdf

http://alzheimersprevention.org/research/journal-articles/

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0975947617303224

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/meditations-calming-effects-pinpointed-in-brain/


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