The truism that men get better with age is only true for men who take care of themselves as the process unfolds. While financial and political power can make up for some excesses, nothing attracts like virile well-being. Whether you’re embracing the freedom of success or mourning your ability to drop and do 50 push-ups without blinking an eye, yoga is your most efficient, effective route to total well-being.
If you’ve picked up Sports Illustrated or watched ESPN in the last decade, you’ve probably heard that some national team or other has added yoga to their athletes’ training regimen. This is a reflection of recent findings about functional strength and the benefits of flexibility on the ability to deploy strength in both controlled and explosive applications. Whether you’re leaping streams and boulders on an outback excursion or carrying your kids or grandkids around the fair, a balanced and flexible set of muscles will get you further than overworked, unbalanced or shortened biceps. Yoga delivers on all three counts: balance, flexibility and deployable strength.
Whether from school sports, league play or just the vagaries of life many men over 50 contend with old injuries while fending off new ones in their daily activities. Yoga is the ideal activity for injury recovery and rehabilitation. If you’re dealing with a recent injury or rehabbing a particularly difficult old injury, look up a certified Yoga Therapist to work with you while recovering your strength, mobility of the affected joints and flexibility. Yoga’s unique combination of selective weight bearing, core stabilization, complementary muscle engagement and active stretching make it the ideal activity for overcoming the difficulty, pain and limitation of old and new injuries.
Many of us are just hitting our stride at this point in life, and that stride may be picking up pace. Stress reduction is a necessary and often neglected part of keeping pace with active families, careers and multidimensional responsibilities. No other workout option so seamlessly integrates your many and varied goals for your time at the gym. Other workouts meld cardio and strength, but can be antithetical to true letting go. Other options may encourage relaxation, but let you down on the power front. With yoga you can spend your time efficiently and get all the benefits you need to stay sharp and agile.
If the only yoga class you’ve ever been to has been in a dark room with sitar music and a whole bunch of pillows, you may be under the impression that yoga is a lot of lying around on bolsters. While this is an available option, an even more common option in most yoga centers and gyms these days relies on a series called the Sun Salutation. In this article yoga is lauded as “an optimal cardiorespiratory exercise1.” Yoga is also proven to increase strength and flexibility simultaneously with active resistance.
If you’re interested in exercising to moderate the effects of stress, age and heredity on blood pressure, glucose, cholesterol and BMI, yoga has proven beneficial with sustained practice in each of these metrics. In one study of 20 middle-aged people with hypertension, three months of daily practice yielded clear benefit on not only vital signs, but also on subjective tests of stress2. In this review of literature, 32 studies over 27 years were analyzed, finding that yoga created positive changes in body weight, blood pressure, glucose level and cholesterol2. It goes to reason that a system with optimal cardio built in as well as strength and flexibility training would have positive affects on the numbers that add up to health.
Finally, half of all men over 50 experience at least some trouble with the prostate gland, a vital part of a man’s sexual as well as urological health. Yoga specifically targets the PFM, or pelvic floor muscles, the engagement of which is thought to be beneficial to blood and nutrient flow to the prostate. In order to keep these vital muscles and this crucial gland in top condition, practice these three poses with a registered yoga teacher:
1. B. Sinha, U. S. Ray, A. Pathak and W. Selvam. (2002). Energy Cost and Cardiorespiratory Changes During the Practice of Surya Namaskar. Association of Physiologists and Pharmacologists of India. Retrieved Sept 14, 2011, from http://www.ijpp.com/vol48_2/abs_vol48_2_orgnl_04.htm
2. Yang, K. (2007, December 4). A review of yoga programs for four leading risk factors of chronic diseases. Pub Med. Retrieved September 14, 2011, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18227916