The benefits of yoga are many. Studies tell us that yoga can be instrumental in lowering blood pressure, keeping muscles and joints fluid and flexible, and in easing back pain. These claims alone should be reason enough to pique your interest. Instead of taking a half dozen supplements that promise to fix everything that ails you, try yoga.
Seniors often resist the idea of yoga because they are not comfortable with the idea of getting down on the floor. Would you be interested if I told you that you could derive the same benefits while sitting down or holding on to a chair?
I took my first chair yoga class last week and I was impressed. It left me with the same relaxed “stretchy feeling” that I get from a traditional yoga class, maybe more so because I didn’t have to worry that my warrior pose wasn’t perfect or that my tree balancing act left me swaying too much. Chair yoga introduced me to the same postures but with teensy little modifications that were much easier.
Get over the idea that yoga is only for young agile athletes who can bend themselves into pretzels. Yoga can be enjoyed by all and it has nothing to do with age or physical prowess.
• Yoga classes are very popular. You can find a good chair yoga class at senior centers, yoga studios, the YMCA or even at a nearby hospital.
• You don’t need to buy special equipment.
• You can wear any comfortable loose fitting clothing (cute yoga outfits and matching mats are optional).
Watch a class the first time or two if you feel too intimidated to take on something new. Once the weirdness wears off you will see that it isn’t hard at all. The other option is doing yoga at home. Did you know that local PBS Stations often run a series called “Yoga for the Rest of Us” by Peggy Cappy? This series is also available in DVD format at your public library. You will soon be convinced that yoga is indeed for the rest of us. Go yoga!
Loss of flexibility may not seem like a big deal at first, just part of getting older, but wait a minute; it is a big deal.
If climbing stairs or reaching for a mixing bowl on the top shelf of the cupboard is harder than it should be, it is a very big deal. You think you are doing fine, but are you? What happens when you can’t bend over to put on your shoes and socks?
You will never be able to live a happily independent life if you can’t take care of yourself. As a smart senior you may already be doing some strength training and cardiovascular work, but that may not be enough. If you go to the gym regularly but are stiffer and sorer than your couch potato friends you need to do something more.
The answer of course is that muscles and joints need attention too. Joints stiffen and muscles lose elasticity as we age. Our muscles tighten up, all 430 of them. Ouch!
The knee jerk reaction is to go to bed with a heating pad and a good book, but is that the best answer? The more sedentary we are the stiffer we become, and the stiffer we become the more sedentary we want to be (a vicious cycle).
Animals know what to do instinctively; they stretch. Their muscles become supple and they spring into action at a moment’s notice. Watch how they stretch; we can learn from them. There is a reason why so many yoga and tai chi postures are named after animals. When we stretch our muscles we, like our four footed friends, can take on the world.
It isn’t too late to get help if stiff muscles and joints are more than just a minor inconvenience. Your physician will refer you to a physical therapist for an evaluation, but from that point on it will be up to you.
Don’t be an accident waiting to happen. Accidents do happen you know, and not just to the other guy. “What if” it happens to you?
Bathtub safety is a big “what if,” and a pretty scary one at that. My husband found that out last week, when for the first time in his life he couldn’t get out of the bathtub. I must admit that the idea of calling 911 entered my mind, but fortunately we were able to problem solve on our own, but “what if”? What if I hadn’t been home? What if he had hurt himself?
There is a reason why researchers compile data about trips and slips and falls; older people really do have trouble getting into and out of tubs and showers.
My husband swears he will never use the tub again, but is that the answer? Do you really want to deny yourself the pleasure of a relaxing bath or a revitalizing shower?
Why do tub and shower accidents happen? Researchers watch and record. People, young and old, instinctively grab on to whatever is closest to them when they start to fall. It doesn’t take long to realize that the shower curtain, glass tub or shower door, or the towel rack is not strong enough to support your weight.
You can make bathing safer:
• Nonstick mats and treads to provide traction.
• Grab bars, properly installed, to give you something to hold on to. Install all around the shower, bath and toilet areas.
• A sturdy shower bench will allow you to sit and shower in comfort. Learn how to use a tub transfer seat to ease in and out of your tub.
• Do not bath when alone in the house.
• Consider replacing your old tub or shower with a walk-in model.
Take bathroom safety seriously. Young or old, you can’t be too careful. Ask your doctor for an Occupational or Physical Therapy Consult if you have any doubts about your bathroom safety.
Exercising can be difficult, if not impossible, for seniors with health problems. Popular aerobics classes, line dancing, zumba, and even Yoga can be daunting for those suffering with sore muscles and stiff joints.
Would you reconsider if you knew that there was a place where you could move around freely and exercise without pain? Exercising in the water might be just the thing for you. In the water you will experience a sense of buoyancy that will allow you to work out effortlessly (weightlessly).
Lap swimming is the first thing that comes to mind when you think “water exercise,” and lap swimming can be pretty boring. You will be pleased to know that you don’t have to be a Master’s Level Swimmer to enjoy a good a good workout in the water.
Let’s look for something a little more fun than lap swimming. No need to be afraid of the water; you don’t have to know how to swim and you don’t have to know what you are doing (no experience required).
The water will support your body and provide enough resistance to assure that you get an amazing workout. Try walking in waist high or chest high water if you don’t believe me. You can walk, jog or do jumping jacks. Try yoga stretches, tai chi forms, Pilate’s routines, or even dance in the water. Relax, enjoy the music, and play/exercise at the same time. Don’t worry about how you look in a swimsuit or whether you have “two left feet” because nobody can see what you are doing under there.
You will love the camaraderie and the social support of fellow exercisers; you will probably giggle more than you have in a long time (this means you just might be having fun).
YMCA, community centers, recreation centers, senior center and fitness centers that have pools all offer a variety of water based classes. All you have to do is show up, dip your toe in the water, and get ready to have the time of your life.
Happy New Year! It’s time to make New Year Resolutions again. Let’s find an exercise class for you!
You are not alone if the thought of exercising already painful muscles and joints causes you to break out in a cold sweat, but you can do it.
Save your joints by signing up for a water aerobics class. Local pools offer a variety of water classes that range from aerobics to zumba. Yes, A to Z and everything else in between.
So, what’s holding you up? It’s the swim suit isn’t it?
Nobody wants to bare all anymore, but you can hide under a robe or wrap yourself in a big towel until the last possible minute. You will be fine.
The real obstacle is the swimsuit. Trying to squeeze yourself into a tiny scrap of spandex is more daunting than anything you will ever face in class.
It is easier for men. You may want to hide beneath a big towel too, but you have to admit that swimsuit manufactures have been a lot kinder to men then to women.
For the ladies, well my heart goes out to you. It is bad enough that you have to be a contortionist to get in and out of a sports bra much less a swim suit. The last time I had a swim suit on the strap configuration was so complicated that I had to pull it off and start over three times.
Needless to say I was delighted when I stumbled across an ad for a swimsuit designed for the rest of us.
Seriously, Speedo beware, there is a company out there with a real heart. Stepin2now suits (www.stepin2now.com) are designed for people who are serious about exercising but need a little help. A quick trip to the website will answer all of your questions.
Instead of a separate top and bottom you get a suit that is actually two half’s that come together to form a whole. Have I piqued your interest? This suit has the look, coverage and support of a traditional swimsuit. The difference is that is easy to get into and you will be the “bell of the locker room.” So, no more excuses…right?