Never too ‘old’!

How to become a strong & flexible 80 year old…

 

Perhaps you feel a few aches and pains, but you haven’t thought seriously about what your body might do when you get older…

That’s OK! It’s great to live in the present moment and not to worry about the future.

However, when it comes to ‘ageing gracefully’, it DOES pay to plan a head a little.

This week, I delved into a scientific research paper that compared an Ashtanga yoga programme for people in three age groups: 20-29 years, 30-39 years, and 40-49 years (Halder et al., 2015).

The result are really encouraging!

But before I review the fantastic results of this study, let’s just briefly talk about what COULD happen as your body ages.

 

What happens as we age?

From around the age of 30 the body starts to age slowly. This might shock you! But it’s true.

By bringing your awareness to this fact, you can start to make choices to COUNTERACT these natural age-related changes.

It’s natural that:

… the body starts breaking down muscles more, and become less good at absorbing protein from the diet. This results in the natural weakening of muscles, a process called sarcopenia.

…our muscles and tendons to get stiffer, reducing flexibility. This is due to increased stiffness and rigidity of the soft-tissues of the joint capsules, muscles, facia, tendons, ligaments and skin surrounding different joints.

…our body fat starts to creep up as the hormones that drive metabolism and energy burning reduce with oncoming age (especially for women).

bone density starts to reduce (especially for women after the menopause), as the hormones involved in storing calcium in our bones reduce as well.

(BUT we can do something about all this!)

 

So what can we do?

If you’re feeling a bit discouraged after reading the list above, then please keep reading!

Exercise scientists have long agreed that weight-bearing and strength training exercise into older ages (as well as eating enough protein), is SUPER important for maintaining muscle strength and bone density.

And now there is also research showing that Ashtanga yoga is beneficial for halting age-related physical declines too!

So let’s review this super interesting study…

 

Yoga for all ages

This study recruited 79 volunteers, whom they divided into 3 groups: 20-29, 30-39, and 40-49 years. All volunteers took part in a yoga exercise regime for 3 months.

The volunteers were given a 1-hour yoga class, 6 days a week, first thing in the morning.

Yes…. This is fairly intense! But I was excited to read this, because other studies usually give just 1 or 2 classes a week, and see limited results.

The yoga style was based on Ashtanga (so lots of sun-salutations), and they also included breathing exercises and meditation.

Similar to my classes! Whoohoo! 🥳

 

‘Reversed’ ageing!

The researchers took lots of measurements: weight, BMI, body fat, and strength and flexibility of different muscles.

They found that for all measurements the oldest two groups, and especially the oldest (40-49 years) improved the most!

After the 12 weeks of yoga:

…The middle and oldest group lost weight, lowered their body fat % and moved their BMI from over-weight to the ‘normal’ category. (The youngest group was already in a healthy BMI category before the yoga programme).

…All age groups increased hand-grip strength and back strength, with the 40-49 year olds increasing strength the most.

…All age groups increased upper-back flexibility and hamstring flexibility with, again, the 40-49 year olds increasing flexibility the most.

So, the participants in the middle and oldest group essentially LOWERED their own ‘biological age’ by reducing their body fat (to a healthier level), increasing strength and increasing flexibility!

 

Applying this to YOUR life?

This study gave volunteers a 1 hour yoga class, 6 days a week in the mornings. So you might be thinking…

“I don’t have 1 hour every morning to do yoga!”

Well, looking closely at the study report, the active part of yoga contained 5 minutes of sun-salutations, and 20 minutes of yoga poses.

(The rest of the time was taken up with breath-work and mediation.)

While I don’t want to reduce the importance of the mediation side of yoga, it is fantastic to see these physical results with JUST 25 minutes of yoga a day!

This suddenly becomes a lot more realistic. 😎

(Most of us spend 2-3 hours a day scrolling social media, so perhaps we can fit in 25 minutes of yoga!)

 

A gift to your 80-year old self!

Today you might not feel the effects of age on your body. Today it is SOOOO easy to choose a chilled half hour, scrolling your phone with a lovely hot cuppa.

Yet… if you are over age 30 you WILL be ageing the tiniest bit every day.

Every bit of muscle strengthening and stretching exercise you do today will top up the ‘health’ bank-account of your future 80-year old self!

So what do you think?

Is it worth getting a little sweaty today for a fit 80-year old you?

Yoga homework

I invite you to pick a yoga practice that includes sun-salutations.

Hint: ALL my online classes do…. 😉 

 

Start saving for the future

Find a class lasting between 10 – 30 minutes, and do this on

3 mornings/evenings a week.

Let’s focus on establishing this routine…. Maybe one day you’ll do more!

 

I can help you!

If you’re not yet a BendyFriend, have a look at my offerings.

Learn more!

I hope you enjoyed this mini blog. 🤓

Please share your views in comments below!

Jolanthe x


Reference

Halder, K., Chatterjee, A., Pal, R., Tomer, O. S., & Saha, M. (2015). Age related differences of selected Hatha yoga practices on anthropometric characteristics, muscular strength and flexibility of healthy individuals. International journal of yoga, 8(1), 37.

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