We live in an exciting time, when advances in our knowledge of how the human body ages are giving us powerful new tools to optimize health and well-being.
Particularly when it comes to how well we age, we know more than ever about what we can do to lay the foundation for a healthier life even as we grow older.
In that respect, exciting new research is taking us to the next level of knowledge about how to prevent the vicious cycle that leads to loss of strength and mobility over time, says yoga therapist Lynn Crimando in this free download. And yoga is one of the important tools that we can apply to make full use of this emerging knowledge.
The new research focuses on the slow, progressive and inexorable loss of muscle mass and strength, a.k.a. sarcopenia. We hear a lot about osteoporosis, however, Lynn points out, osteoporosis is mainly a concern if we fall – most osteoporotic fractures do not occur spontaneously.
The progressive loss of muscle mass, in contrast, is a much larger concern, notes Lynn. And that is for two reasons:
- It Is Universal. Not everyone gets osteoporosis. But everyone experiences loss of muscle mass and muscle strength – and the onset starts as early as in our 40s.
- It Triggers a Vicious Cycle of Slow-Onset Frailty. Loss of muscle mass leads to less strength and lower energy. This in turn makes us move less and less, leading to faster loss of muscle mass, and even lower energy to do even simple things like going for a long walk.
Once we get trapped in that vicious cycle, it can be hard to break out, explains Lynn.
However, it is well-established that there is one reliable way to stem the loss of muscle mass and gain numerous other benefits: Strength training.
However, according to new research, strength training that simply focuses on repetitive movements to build muscle mass is not enough.
What researchers now know is that just building muscle mass doesn’t translate into greater muscle strength.
The reason? For strength training to translate into greater functional strength, researchers now believe, there must be neuromuscular integration involved as well as building muscle.
This has huge implications for our yoga practice, explains Lynn. Rote repetition of strength building movements won’t in and of itself translate into greater strength.
However, the kind of demanding, precise, and coordinated action needed for demanding yoga poses is exactly the strength-building approach that researchers now believe will yield the greatest results, she notes.
“The great news is that there is no age at which you cannot improve someone’s health,” Lynn notes. “And the dialogue that’s going on right now about aging is so interesting, because every day we learn more about how to work with the human body. There is no age at which it’s too late to do something to improve your condition.”
Lynn further discusses the key movements we must cover to get a fully balanced strength training and gives examples of how to integrate more strength training in a yoga practice.
You may also be interested in Lynn’s course, Yoga for Strength-Training: Keys to Building a Stronger Body-Mind with Yoga.