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lady-yoga-poseDoes your 2015 health regimen include taking better care of your heart? According to a new Harvard University study, you may want to consider adding a yoga class or two to your weekly health regimen.

After analyzing the results of nearly 40 different clinical trials, researchers found that practicing yoga proved just as beneficial for heart health as regular aerobic activity (such as brisk walking or running) and believe it may be a viable alternative for older adults or those with health issues that prevent them from participating in more vigorous physical activity.

Among the more than 2,700 study participants, those who included yoga in their weekly health regimen saw noticeable improvements with regard to common cardiac risk factors including blood pressure, cholesterol and heart rate. An average weight loss of just over five pounds was also noted.

Yoga is a centuries-old mind and body practice that involves meditation, controlled breathing and body movement to cultivate self-awareness as well as alleviate stress and improve strength and balance. Previous studies have linked yoga to better flexibility and muscle tone, increased energy, healthy metabolism, and weight loss.

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Poor CreditBefore you go overboard with the holiday spending, you may want to take a moment to think about your heart. Researchers in New Zealand recently found a link between low credit scores and poor cardiovascular health, saying certain personality traits may be to blame.

Using data from the long-term Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study, which tracked the health of 1,000 individuals from birth through age 38, analysts saw a clear connection between certain characteristics—including self-discipline as well as the ability to plan ahead—and both optimal financial health and better overall heart health.

In order to draw their conclusions, the research team used a well-known heart health gauge developed for another decades-long health study known as the Framingham Heart Study. The Cardiovascular Disease Risk Score allowed researchers to measure the “heart age” of participants based on physical health factors (such as blood pressure and cholesterol levels) as well as diet and lifestyle habits.

Although the Dunedin study participants were all nearing 40, their heart ages told a different story, ranging between 22 to 85 years old. Not surprisingly, the younger the heart age, the better the credit score. And finally, while researchers say the personality characteristics connected to higher credit scores are typically established in early childhood, it is never too late to start practicing healthy habits—physically and financially!

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