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Yoga, Aging and Bone Loss

24 June 2013

Everyday more and more individuals are finding themselves suffering with ailments related to a weakening of the bones. The ageing process is typically blamed for this loss of bone mass and density, but truthfully, severe bone weakness (or deterioration) is not a normal side effect of growing older. This is a relatively new problem that has only been an issue in recent years, and without a doubt, our current lifestyle is to blame. Postmenopausal women are most prone to bone loss, but this now this problem is starting to extend to younger women and even men. The bones are like anything else in the body and must be used (use it or lose it) in order to remain strong and durable. If you are concerned about weakening of the bones (either now or in the future) and are looking to boost your bone mass and density resulting in stronger bones, then yoga might just be the solution for you.

Bone strength is often taken for granted by even the most health conscious individuals. We tend to give a lot of consideration to the health and condition of the muscles, skin, brain and even blood, but the bones and their health is commonly neglected. Our bones function as the body’s silent foundation and they deserve to be properly maintained. Bones don’t require a whole lot of attention; they just need to be exercised regularly, on a daily basis.

When we consider exercising, our motive is usually to lose weight or build muscle; but the bones are also greatly affected (in a positive manner) during any good exercise session. The reason weight bearing exercises stimulate increased bone mass and density is because the muscles pull against the bones during the workout. The bones then respond to this pressure and stress by building themselves up. The stronger the muscles become, the more pressure they put on the bones.

Activities that make the body work against the forces of gravity will increase bone mass and density naturally, but not all types of weight bearing activities are created equal. A large number of them (including jogging, running, step-aerobics, gymnastics, etc.) put a great deal of wear and tear on the delicate cartilage and connective tissue of the joints. Because of this excessive stress, this makes these exercises less than ideal for the long term, especially among the aging. Yoga is a perfect example of a weight bearing exercise that efficiently and effectively builds up density and mass in the bones while increasing muscle strength. And…it does this without putting undue stress on the joints, making it the perfect continual physical practice for maintaining movement and agility. Additionally, yoga strengthens the hips, wrists and spine; the bone structures which are the most prone to problems than any other.

Backbends are known to strengthen and support the spine while seated poses safely open up and work the hips like the other asanas (poses). The Cobra Pose counteracts the forward hunch (Osteoporosis) that many individuals with bone loss suffer and also improves overall posture. Standing poses engage the hip bones, putting a great deal of weight on them, but in a gentle and effective manner and Downward Facing Dog puts weight on the upper spine and the wrists, strengthening these delicate bone structures naturally, building them up over time.

Practicing yoga as part of your daily routine is a simple, thorough and easy way to maintain the optimal bone health, and the best part is that it only requires about 30 minutes a day so it should pose no problem when integrating it into your busy schedule. So, there really are no reasons not to incorporate this healthy practice into your everyday life, only excuses.

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