Ancient, Gentle Exercise Strengthens Senior Bodies

Ancient, Gentle Exercise Strengthens Senior Bodies about undefined
Staying active can sometimes be challenging, especially for older adults who face limitations of frailty and loss of strength.

Frailty affects seven to 12 percent of people over the age of 65 in the United States. This condition includes weakness, slowness, exhaustion, low endurance, and weight loss. A study found that your risk of frailty increases with age and frailty itself increases your risk of falls, infections, and puts you at higher risk for a loss of your treasured independence.

What can you do about it? My team and I have written about this topic extensively and I’ve got some good news: Frailty is reversible – especially in its early stages. And now, a new scientific analysis offers another valuable tool to treat this condition that plagues many Americans.

“Up to 50 percent of adults aged 80 years or older are estimated to be frail, and the global prevalence is expected to rise given aging of our population,” explains lead study author Julia Loewenthal M.D., a geriatrician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

“We need more interventions to help with frailty,” the doctor adds.

Her co-author Ariela Orkaby, M.D., notes that there are limited options to improve or prevent frailty. “We are hoping to identify strategies that can improve the health of older adults,” says Dr. Orkaby.

On their list of interventions for closer examination was the universal exercise practice of yoga.

Now, this isn’t the first time we’ve delved into the benefits of yoga. In the past, we’ve explored the numerous cognitive benefits of yoga in our sister publication, Brain Health Breakthroughs.

However, this latest research from Harvard Medical School takes a different approach, focusing only on the physical benefits of yoga.

So, let’s dig into these new findings and discover the modern applications of this ancient practice and the strong evidence that yoga protects against frailty.

Harvard Medical School: Yoga’s physical benefits

To investigate whether yoga can improve frailty, Harvard researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital reviewed 33 studies, which included 2,384 people over 65.

While the studies included a variety of yoga styles, the majority used chair-based methods which are most appropriate for individuals with limited mobility.

The researchers culled through this massive amount of data and determined with “moderate certainty” that doing yoga improved a handful of frailty markers, including walking speed, lower extremity strength, and endurance.

Dr. Loewenthal’s conclusion is encouraging.

“It’s never too late to start a yoga practice or exercise regime to help with your overall health status in your later years,” she says.

Dr. Loewenthal adds that “yoga is an integrative practice that impacts multiple areas of health; it may be effective for preventing a syndrome like frailty, which has multiple causes.”

Using yoga to maximize physical health

The National Institute on Aging recommends that older people focus on four types of exercises – endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility. A comprehensive yoga practice will check all of these boxes. You can also add other activities to increase your physical wellbeing including:
  • Endurance activities: These range from brisk walking, jogging, and swimming to biking, yard work and hiking.
  • Strength training: These activities include lifting weights, using a resistance band, or simply carrying groceries.
  • Stretching: You can improve your balance and flexibility with simple stretching routines, or other exercise practices such as Tai Chi.
Hesitant about starting a yoga practice or any other exercise routine? Head to your local gym, health center or senior center and sign up for a class based on your ability. Many places offer a variety of fitness classes including gentle yoga, or a chair class designed for seniors with limited mobility.

These classes are geared toward newbies and people facing certain limitations, including arthritis, back issues, and more. You’ll find gentle yoga moves at a slower pace, with fewer intense positions. Additionally, a variety of props are used to modify and adapt poses.

It’s important to know your limits and share them with your instructor before class.

Or, if you’re not ready for in-person yoga, there are many reputable free yoga classes online. But it’s important to start slow, be aware of what your body is feeling, and modify poses when necessary.

Best Regards,
The Aging Defeated Team
the-frailty-risk may affect certain frailty,like exercise or tai chi

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