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Friday, March 20, 2009

The Advantages of Exercise, At Any Age

Earlier this week, NPR interviewed the founder of a website that features only positive news stories. (You can listen to the interview here.) Inspired by the idea, I asked our exercise physiologist, Emily Kolakowski, to describe a yoga class she teaches. As you'll see, its participants are unique:
I teach yoga at a local retirement home twice a month. There are 8-12 people who come to the class regularly. The home decided to add yoga to their offerings as a way to help residents improve and maintain their physical and emotional strength. The class lasts 45 minutes, and all exercises are done in a chair--allowing residents in wheelchairs to participate.  The class begins with breathing exercises, and then progresses through stretching and strengthening all the major muscle groups of the body.

In the 9 months I've been teaching the class, I've seen tremendous improvements! Everyone knows the routine well, and they tell me they practice it on their own. It's wonderful to see how much they truly look forward to each class. Yoga affords them time to relax, breathe, and to get a little movement into their day. The movements we do focus on increasing their range of motion, improving circulation, and keeping them strong. I've seen improvements in their flexibility, coordination, and their posture, and they love the deep breathing exercises. At the end of the routine, we do a body scan, which involves tensing and relaxing each muscle group to bring awareness to the total body.
So if you're someone who says, "I'm too old to exercise," you'll have to find another excuse! Yoga and other forms of exercise are beneficial at any age. And take it from this group of retirees: if you maintain a positive attitude, it's never too late to get healthier.

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