Every year thousands of elderly women (and men) fall and break a hip. Many of these women die as a result. Balance, or the loss thereof, is a serious health issue. I find it so important that I do lots of balance training with my clients, old or young. And now some great research out of Temple University in Philadelphia is showing that yoga–yes, my favorite form of physical fitness–is stupendous for bringing back one’s state of balance.
In the study, 24 women aged 65 and older were taken through an hour and a half yoga session two times per week for nine weeks. The intensity of the sessions increased gradually over time. They found that after the program, the women walked faster, used longer strides, and could stand for a longer time on one leg. The women also felt more confident in their ability to balance while standing and walking.
One other incredible result is that the women increased one centimeter in height on average following the program. Wow! Researchers seemed perplexed in finding a reason for this and concluded that “The only explanation may be that they are standing more upright, not so much crouching,” said study chief Dr. Jinsup Song. This seems obvious to me. Stretching tight muscles and strengthening weak ones will lead to a more upright posture. Throw in a little chiropractic care to open up stuck joints and you might even get two centimeters.
It’s great–I love to see real health measures being researched. Yoga is an all encompassing health and fitness practice. If you haven’t tried it, you’re missing out. Take a class or two every week for an entire year and I promise that your life will change. Don’t take my word for it–just do it.