Yoga may help you avoid those “senior moments”

I don’t really follow “trends,” because I tend to prefer things that are tried-and-true.

But there’s one fitness craze that I can actually stand behind – and it’s become so big that you can probably find it at your local community centre or gym.

It’s the ancient practice of yoga!

Long before people started wearing their designer yoga pants everywhere, yogis in ancient India used this discipline to become physically, mentally, and spiritually centred. But in modern times, we’re learning more and more about its health benefits – not the least the actual physical exercise, which can keep your body limber and strong long into your old age.

As I’ve shared with you before, yoga has also been found to alleviate menopause symptoms, anxiety, and atrial fibrillation (Afib) – and it can help stroke patients rehabilitate.

But now, a new study shows that this ancient practice can also help older people combat mild cognitive impairment.

A group of volunteers aged 55 and over with mild cognitive impairment were randomly separated into two groups for the 12-week study. One maintained a regular regimen of yoga movements, breathing and meditation; and another that practiced mental exercises designed to strengthen memory (memory enhancement training, or MET).

In the end, both groups saw improved thinking and memory. But ONLY THE YOGA GROUP saw their mood improved – and they scored better than the memory group on spatial tests, balance tests, object recognition, and depth perception.

Brain scans showed that the yoga group saw ACTUAL CHANGES in their brains – including increased activity in the parts of it that control attention.

Now, the great news is that you don’t have to be a “flower child” to participate in this ancient practice, and you don’t have to understand a word of Sanskrit. There are all types of yoga classes now for people from all walks of life, so you’ve got plenty of options.

I often recommend yoga – as well as its cousin, Pilates – to my patients because it’s great for building muscle and increasing flexibility. It’s also a low-impact way to speed up your metabolism and burn calories without the risks of extreme exercise.

It’s even helped people with mobility issues, with a growing body of research exploring how it can help patients with Parkinson’s disease.

If you’ve never taken yoga before start out with a “gentle” version of it for beginners, so you can get the hang of it slowly and without injury.

Fortunately, this is one fad that’s not likely to fade away quickly. After all, it dates back to at least the third century BC and the novelty hasn’t worn off yet…

Wishing you the best of health,

Dr. Glenn S. Rothfeld
Editor
Nutrition & Healing

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Sources:

Yoga May Be Good for the Brain, well.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/06/01/yoga-may-be-good-for-the-brain/?_r=1

Changes in neutral connectivity and memory following a yoga intervention for older adults: a pilot study, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27060939

Exercise during menopause could reduce hot flashes, study says, wtvr.com/2016/01/27/exercise-during-menopause-could-reduce-hot-flashes-study-says/

Yoga may aid stroke recovery, health.harvard.edu/blog/yoga-may-aid-stroke-recovery-201207285073

A Yoga-Based Exercise Program for People With Chronic Poststroke Hemiparesis, ptjournal.apta.org/content/84/1/33

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  1. Yoga has great benefits for the elderly. It not only helps to keep muscles toned and strong, but the focused breathing helps to nourish the brain with oxygen.

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