Guest Author - Tammy Elizabeth Southin
Flexibility during menopause is more than just our attitudes, itís about our bodies. As we get older we start to notice those subtle changes. We canít get up and down as quickly or as easily as we once did. Or maybe we find it harder to participate in some of our favorite activities. Now more than ever it is very important to keep our bodies flexible with daily exercise.
During menopause women start to lose muscle mass, leaving us feeling a little less shapely than before. But the real concern is our ability to move our bodies and do all the things we need to do every day. Rigid and stiff muscles might make that trip to the grocery store an even less enjoyable errand. The daily grind of housework can take more out of us physically than it should. The less active we are, the less active our muscles are, the less we will be able to do. Flexibility is not so much twisting ourselves into pretzels but rather keeping our bodies supple enough to get through our days with minimal or no discomfort.
Yoga provides a gentle but very effective workout to improve flexibility. There are many variations of yoga and one of the most popular is Hatha yoga. Hatha yoga involves performing various postures or positions that help to stretch the muscles. Each pose or Ďasanaí has a special purpose; to gently increase mobility in the joints and muscles used in that posture. Hatha yoga focuses on using proper breathing techniques and meditation as part of the postures. All of these combine to help us become more familiar with our bodies and what they need.
Yoga is not a competitive sport! Rather it is an opportunity to concentrate on your body and what it can achieve as well as its limitations. With regular practice you can develop a more flexible and stronger body. Some Hatha yoga postures also help to build bone density and help stave off the effects of bone loss and osteoporosis. Yogaís focus on awareness helps us to accept our bodies at any age and learn to work with our bodies. Increased flexibility will help us perform our daily tasks and keep us more mobile as we age.
Tai Chi uses slow and deliberate movements to improve flexibility, agility and balance. As we get older loss of balance and agility lead to increased fears when walking. Tai Chiís movements seem to give little in the way of exercise. But once these sequences are properly mastered, the benefits are incredible. The calming sensation on the body is similar to that found in yoga as well as a greater awareness of our individual abilities. Tai Chiís gentleness allows almost everyone to participate no matter what their level of physical fitness.
Your local community centers offer yoga and Tai Chi classes and usually require little more than comfortable clothing and a mat. Both activities are excellent low cost options for exercise. As a bonus you will meet lots of wonderful people in your classes all sharing the common goal of keeping fit while having fun. Menopause does not have to mean the end of physical fitness. Yoga and Tai Chi will help you attain a more flexible body that is ready to meet menopause head on.
As always, please be sure to check with your doctor before starting any kind of exercise program.
Menopause, Your Doctor, and You