PARAMUS, N.J. -- Imagine enjoying increased flexibility, improved respiratory function and experiencing a generally healthier sense of well-being as you age. According to emerging evidence, finding this fountain of youth is possible for everyone through a little instruction, dedication and a willingness to work up a sweat.
According to Katrin Ramsey, a certified lymphedema therapist at Hospital for Special Surgery, research has shown yoga to be a highly effective exercise routine for promoting health and wellness later in life. The reason for yoga's expansive physical benefits, she said, is due in part to the variety of areas the exercise targets.
For example, regular yoga practice can enhance balance ability. "Improving static and dynamic balance minimizes fear of falling and significantly reduces fall risk potential," said Ramsey, who is also a physical therapist and certified yoga instructor. "Yoga participation also facilitates improved postural control skills of practitioners, which helps your body effectively neutralize the repetitive biomechanical stress forces associated with bending, reaching and lifting activities of daily living."
Beyond balance and flexibility, yoga is also shown to improve a variety of internal faculties. Since many poses involve a variety of weight bearing exercise positions, bones become more efficient at remodeling and building, resulting in better overall bone health. "Healthier bones exhibit improved bone density (mass) and bone strength," said Ramsey. "Keeping your bones healthy and strong helps minimize the risk of osteopenia/osteoporosis progression and minimizes future fracture risk."
Seniors performing yoga also exhibit respiratory system efficiency. "Improvements include increased vital lung capacity and decreased respiration rates," said Ramsey. "Adult yoga subscribers exhibit cardiovascular fitness improvements including lower resting heart rates and blood pressure measurements."
Additional health benefits of yoga also include improved sleep quality, decreased anxiety, improved mobility, decreased depression, improved cognitive function and alleviated pain.
"Prior to initiating any exercise regimen, it's important to obtain physician medical clearance and appropriateness advice," said Ramsey. "Choose a qualified instructor to help guide you safely, and enjoy the journey."