By Karen McCormick
In the twenty odd years I worked in traditional health care, one thing was taken for granted: Age = illness and disability. The very idea that one could age to wellness was considered bizarre.
“Getting older is hell”. “You have nothing to look forward to by getting old”. Hospitals are full of sick old people. It’s taken for granted that as you age, you are going to get weaker and sicker until you die.
But what if that’s not true? What if growing older can mean getting stronger and healthier? What if it’s possible to live a healthy, active life right up til the end? That’s what Age to Wellness means.
Aging to wellness means maybe being confined to a wheelchair when you start, but regaining strength and ability to move independently again. It means approaching life from a mental state that says physical setbacks don’t have to be permanent just because one is advanced in years.
It means losing the fear of falling because you can now get up on your own due to improved flexibility. It means not being afraid to live alone if you want to because you can take care of yourself. It means staying active and connected to life.
Is this really possible? Age to Wellness, the yoga program for older adults by Amy Kraft and Chair Yoga expert Janet Rae Humphrey, says resoundingly, “Yes!”
But what if you aren’t there yet? Does that mean you have only miserable years of pain and infirmity to look forward to? NO! You can start right now and reap big rewards, even after as little as 3 months of yoga practice.
Specifically, Science has validated these benefits older adults get from just 12 weeks of yoga, twice a week*:
– significantly improved pulmonary (respiratory) function
– significant improvements in “executive function measures of working memory capacity and efficiency of mental set shifting and flexibility compared with their stretching-strengthening counterparts” (this means mental abilities improve comparably to the physical improvements experienced)
– improvements in the level of growth hormone and DHEA, two essential hormones that drop off precipitously as we age
– significant improvements in the quality of sleep in older individuals (average age 60)
– significantly reduced the depressive symptoms of elderly participants after 6 months
With all the good news about the health benefits of yoga practice, it’s good to know it only takes a little bit of work over a short period of time to reap the benefits. So if you’re one of the millions of older adults considering taking up yoga practice, we say, “Go for it!”
*For links to the data sources quoted here, go to: http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/1308597-yogas-age-defying-effects-confirmed-by-science/