Older Adults and Yoga

I am a huge fan of exercise! Although this is true, exercise needs to match the person's needs.
Older adults, you are different and have special needs! Your spine is not quite the same as say a 20-30 year old's spine! In quite a few cases your spine looks the same on the outside, but structurally your spine may not have as strong of a foundation! You know what I'm talking about if you are over 50 because you've probably experienced bone density testing.

As your doctor reviews your test results with you, you may learn new words like "osteopenia" and "osteoporosis." It's not the end of the world if your results indicate osteopenia or osteoporosis. What it really means to me is that your bones aren't quite as thick and strong as what is normal. Because they aren't as strong, they run the risk of cracking. Okay, okay, a doctor will say the bone may fracture. When this happens, the X-rays aren't very impressive because the image just looks like a crack. Even though the bone is cracked, the condition is very painful. 

The whole goal of bone density testing and learning your bone health is to come up with a game plan to keep your bones healthy. If you are told you have osteopenia or osteoporosis, your doctor will spend some time discussing calcium, vitamin D, your diet and hormones. You'll hear "exercise" mentioned in passing. For those of you being told your results indicate osteopenia or osteoporosis, you have additional things you need to think about when it comes to physical activity choices. No one wants to see you go through an experience of having a cracked bone in your back. It hurts; it isn't fun; your life will come to a standstill for a good 8-12 weeks. The basic rule of thumb is to avoid activities where you are bent over with a curved spine or bent over with a curved spine while twisted to the right or left. Some of you may also need to reconsider how you get out of bed! Your "get out of bed" pattern will need to be one where you roll to your side, drop your legs off the edge of the bed and then push yourself up into sitting. Definitely stay active, but let me offer just a tad bit of advice on what you need to consider when it comes to exercise.

Exercise is a beneficial activity for someone who has osteopenia or osteoporosis. Exercise helps by strengthening your bones. Although exercise is beneficial, the specifics of the exercise matter. Your physical therapist can help design an exercise program just for you. The program will be focused on improving your bone health while keeping in mind activities you enjoy doing. You'll also have an opportunity to have your physical therapist's opinion by sharing what you enjoy doing to ensure those activities are generally safe. Many older adults are turning to yoga as an exercise they enjoy doing. Please be careful with this option. You'd be wise to discuss with your physical therapist the various positions you enjoy performing to ensure they are safe for your back bones!

photo by Synergy by Jasmine via Flickr 

Talk to you later...



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