It isn’t often that our Western-medicine physicians will suggest we take an alternative route to health. Boston University scientists have done some research, however, that points to an Eastern form of exercise that will help with a big Western problem: Yoga is theorized to help reduce stress.
Specifically, their research shows that yoga can help treat and prevent high blood pressure, cardiac disease and anxiety. Yoga, they believe, helps to restore balance to the nervous system. Imbalance can come from stress. In one study, participants were split into two groups: walking versus yoga. Only those in the yoga group had a rise in gamma amino-butyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that produces feelings of calm.
Researchers took a big step (for Western medicine) when they suggested that specific yoga practices should be created as a way to help with stress-related conditions. The theories now will be tested in clinical studies.
Yoga classes are easily found, but for seniors, a class that is specially geared to us is safer. Muscles get weak, and osteoporosis can result when we sit too much. Yoga itself isn’t a strenuous exercise, but it’s best to start with slow, gentle movements and a skilled instructor.
With yoga we can learn deep breathing and mild stretching … with quiet Eastern music playing in the background. Doesn’t that sound peaceful?
Look for senior-friendly yoga classes at the senior center, churches, assisted living centers (even if you don’t live there) and fitness centers. Yes, those fitness gyms are starting to figure out that there are a lot of us, and we’ll use their services if they provide what we need. Sometimes that can include special classes, like yoga for seniors.
Matilda Charles regrets that she cannot personally answer reader questions, but will incorporate them into her column whenever possible. Write to her in care of King Features Weekly Service, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475, or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
(c) 2012 King Features Synd., Inc.