The last Wednesday in September is “National Women’s Health and Fitness Day”, the stated goal of which is more American women taking control of their own health. Over 1,000 local organizations/agencies including hospitals, senior centers and retirement communities are expected to participate this year. It is worth noting that this event falls during Educational Television’s “Healthy Aging Month”, which highlights the positive aspects of growing older. Although women benefit from regular exercise like everyone else, a recent University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) study suggests that those aged 60+ may require only once a week resistance and aerobic exercise to see a benefit. After four months of training, study participants’ heart rates dropped significantly when walking, their lean muscle mass increased and they generally performed their daily living activities much easier. Resistance training and other weight bearing exercises are known to stimulate bone growth countering the effects of osteoporosis, a leading cause of disability in older women.
Yoga is one weight bearing exercise that is often overlooked as appropriate for an elderly population. As we age, respiration becomes more shallow as ribcage flexibility decreases. While performing yoga’s “mindful breathing” exercises, seniors re-engage their rib cage bones and muscles in inhaling and exhaling deeply, which in turn circulates more oxygen throughout the body. Yoga poses are also highly modifiable, making them ideal even for wheelchair-bound participants, although holding patterns and transitions need to be slowed down and shortened. Chair Yoga is increasingly cropping up on the activities rosters in SNFs, ALFs, rehabs and senior centers across America as it is ideal for populations with limited physical abilities.
Yoga for seniors, and chair yoga in particular is a unique way to highlight this month’s above-mentioned events. If you are PT, PTA, OT, COTA, or Rehab Manager, we encourage you to consider the therapeutic benefits of this form of exercise for the senior populations you serve. If you are considering working with the elderly or contemplating any other career move, the expert team at Centra can help. Call us today at 800 535 0076 or download our mobile app.