Yoga: Best Exercise for Elderly

serenity-buddhaWhen I first heard about yoga for the elderly, I envisioned a classroom of very young-looking elderly people who have managed to find the fountain of youth that allows them to gracefully find their way into a seated position on a yoga mat on the floor. I figured there would be very few classes for the elderly, because most of the elderly people in my acquaintance are not able to get down on the floor.

I was invited to share in the experience of going to an elderly yoga class and the first thing the instructor said was that if you can breathe, you can do yoga.

That surprised me. I thought you had to be very flexible and have a certain amount of strength to do yoga. Our first class was limited to doing chair yoga. All the participants were invited to sit on a chair and little by little we were all able to coax a little greater flexibility out of our upper body, hands, wrists, elbows, and shoulders. We did a little bit of waist bending to help stretch muscles in our back.

We finished the class with a short meditation period where we sat quite peacefully, eyes closed, and learned to focus on our breath, just noticing our breath as we first inhaled, then exhaled.

Afterward, I spent some time with the instructor who specializes in teaching yoga to the elderly. It would appear that elderly patients in their 70s, 80s, even 90s have experienced a great deal of benefit in terms of improved health and flexibility. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary medicine supports this claim. They did a randomized trial of yoga for individuals over the age of 60 and compared the results with other senior exercise programs.

The conclusion was that yoga was indeed a superior exercise for elderly people. In addition to improving their health, participants also enjoyed better balance and proprioception. They improved their muscle strength, lowered blood pressure, and improved their ability to sleep.

An additional benefit to taking a yoga class, as with most any other class is the psychosocial benefit of exercising with other people, eliminating the sense of isolation that is responsible for increasing rates of loneliness and depression.

Yoga is infinitely adjustable to each individual, making it an excellent form of exercise for all abilities and conditioning. By improving seniors’ muscle strength and balance, they are able to maintain greater independence than they would otherwise, allowing them to get in and out of bed alone, and perform other daily activities unassisted.

Participants of the study reported a greater quality of life as a result of their yoga classes. Even learning to breathe differently is a yoga practice available even to the most frail of elderly patients. To continue to add more life to your years, contact us at Green Valley Wellness & Chiropractic

Serenity Buddha by Robert Piemme

How Lack of Exercise Affects Health

The_'weigh'_he_was_--_weightloss_at_GuantanamoA lack of exercise results in numerous health problems, starting from seemingly harmless weight gain to cardiovascular diseases and a much higher chance of suffering a stroke.  Research has concluded that as many people die because of the effects of lack of exercise as the number that die from smoking.

This is why chiropractic exercises are strongly recommended to maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle and avoid all complications that can lead up to a stroke.

The following problems can occur due to lack of exercise:

1. Obesity

Obesity is one of the major effects of a lack of exercise.  Various health problems can surface due to obesity such as diabetes, breathing issues, high blood pressure and a far greater risk of suffering a heart attack.

Besides the physical effects, many psychological effects also accompany obese people.  Low self-esteem that leads to depression can be a devastating experience.

It is no doubt that obesity can result from genetic factors, but a lack of exercise is usually a major reason.

2. High Blood Pressure

Being overweight can lead to hypertension.  The blood vessels clog up which restricts blood flow.  Hypertension exposes a person to various other risks, such as heart attack, kidney failure and many other ailments.  A hypertensive individual is more likely to develop diabetes.

3. Decline in Brain Function

Exercise helps in increasing the flow of blood to the brain, while lack of exercise does the opposite.  A brain that is deprived of blood cannot function normally as it would otherwise.  The brain can also physically shrink due to the lack of blood supply – a research states that this ‘shrinkage’ can be avoided and mental abilities can be enhanced by regular exercise.

4. Reduction in Strength of Bones and Muscles

A sedentary lifestyle can weaken the bones and muscles, thus exposing an individual to a greater chance of injury as well as diseases such as arthritis.  Lack of exercise can make a person more prone to fractures in case of a fall along with knee-joint and hip problems later on.

5. Increased Chances of Developing Cancer

Research was carried over several years and the results show an increased chance of cancer from a lack of exercise.  Also, people who were physically fit when they developed cancer had a far greater chance of survival than those who had led a sedentary lifestyle.

Image used under Creative Commons Licensing: The ‘weigh’ he was — weightloss at Guantanamo.jpg

SLEEP – Myth of “Sleeping In”

Have you ever wanted to “catch up” with your sleep by sleeping in? Have you ever wanted to take the time to sleep a couple more hours just to make up for the lack of sleep this week?

Researchers have shown that “sleeping in” does not actually create the rest you want it to create. In fact, it can confuse your body as your internal clock tries to reset it’s daily pattern.

Here is the physiology.  Your Circadian Rhythm is your daily clock.  It helps your body by telling your body what time of the day it is, “body wise”. It is your internal clock.

Your internal clock starts as soon as light strikes your eyes in the morning. It starts your day. Now your body knows what to expect over the next 24 hours.  If you decide to sleep in a couple hours, your clock has to reset, and this can cause unrest in your body instead of the rejuvenation you were expecting to receive.  Your body has to now “reset” it’s internal clock according to the new time you woke up and can take days to get back into your daily rhythm.

In order to catch up with your sleep, try going to bed earlier and waking at the same time. This will allow your internal clock, your Circadian Rhythm, to continue undisturbed. Now you have successfully achieved the rest and rejuvenation you were looking for and your daily clock remains intact ready for another day.

Join us this Thursday, April 18, at 12:30 if you want to learn more about sleep and whole food nutrition. The class will be at my office: Green Valley Chiropractic & Wellness Center, 2720 Green Valley Parkway, Henderson, NV, 89014.  Please RSVP at 702/451-0480