If you’re like me, you like being in charge and control of your life’s decisions. Of course, the actuality of that control is tempered with the reality of outside forces. In many situations, it’s best to release any attachment and adapt to what is. Recognize, however, you do have a lot of control over what goes on with your body. Committing to the decision to take control of your health is very empowering. Key to your health is being physically active. This is especially true for that huge population segment known as the Baby Boom Generation, those born between the years 1946-1964.
As the body ages, muscle tone diminishes; bone mass and structural integrity degrades; and the free range of motion in joints is reduced. Maintaining quality of life and retaining independence requires use of the body. Engaging muscles, weight-bearing exercises and mobilizing the actions of the various types of joints can all be accomplished with yoga.
Yoga is readily accessible to everyone which is paramount to any successful exercise program. If there are no studios in your area or the cost of joining a local gym is to high, look into programs offered at community centers or the YMCA. Ideally a competent and knowledgeable instructor guides your yoga practice, but even that obstacle can be overcome with the selection of DVDs and books at the library. I teach at various facilities with a range of ages. What is very gratifying for me is witnessing the outward changes that come through yoga practice. Especially the changes with my seniors: the ability to stand more erect and walk with more confidence rather than head bowed with shuffling feet. It literally could save their lives. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported 30% of seniors 65 years and older who experience a fall resulting in a hip fracture will die within a year. An article on Medline Plus (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/falls.html) notes other conditions and situations that can affect balance and contribute to falls. Practicing yoga will improve balance, coordination and proprioception. You’re probably familiar with the five senses (touch, taste, sight, hearing, and smell). Think of proprioception as the 6th sense. It’s the ability to know where your limbs are in space without visual confirmation. With improved balance and coordination and a heightened sense of proprioception the risk of falls, and their potentially fatal consequences, can be avoided.
As if quality of life and maintaining independence aren’t enough reasons to schedule in daily exercise, the protective nature of physical activity was reinforced recently. A study published in the International Journal of Cancer reports that developing colorectal cancer is basically dependent on lifestyle; with certain food choices and levels of alcohol consumption increasing the risk whereas physical activity—consistent physical activity—lowered the risk. For more on this study read here: http://news.cancerconnect.com/diet-and-lifestyle-choices-key-to-preventing-colorectal-cancer/
The Baby Boomers initiated great social change. Two in particular: the Civil Rights and Equal Rights movements which caused sweeping reforms and, in some cases upheavals, to the status quo. These movements changed perceptions and expectations. As the Baby Boomers continue to age one thing is certain: they’ll redefine what it means to age. Through yoga they can maintain a healthy body to house a healthy mind and continue to leave their mark.
Health, Wellness & CURES!!
Karen Whittier RYT
Chief Activist, Embrace Activism