Do people with osteoporosis try yoga for healthy aging?: a Q&A

Q: What is osteoporosis?
A: This condition, which was once thought to be fairly rare or confined solely to women, is actually quite common and affects people of both genders. Osteoporosis is a gradual reduction of bone mass, which weakens the skeleton over time.

Q: What causes osteoporosis?
A: Though many people think of osteoporosis as being an inevitable part of growing old, it isn’t. In fact, this condition is a complex disease that stems from getting too little calcium, vitamin D and exercise, as well as having an unhealthy lifestyle or experiencing sudden hormonal changes (menopause being the most common).

Q: I have osteoporosis. What should I do?
A: Only a doctor can officially diagnose you with this skeletal disease. Talk to your physician about pharmaceuticals you can take and lifestyle changes you can make to slow or even reverse some of your bone loss.

Q: Can lifestyle changes reduce the risk of osteoporosis?
A: They certainly can! The National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) recommends that people of all ages take vitamin supplements, eat well, get weight-bearing exercise and abstain from alcohol and tobacco.

Q: What about complementary treatments?
A: Numerous studies have shown that people who do yoga for healthy aging may have a lower risk of becoming osteoporotic. Reports appearing in the journal Topics in Geriatric Rehabilitation and the European Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine associated doing yoga with improvements in bone density and pain levels among adults with osteoporosis.

Q: Are there stretching exercises for seniors that are good for a weakened skeleton?
A: There certainly are. The Yoga Journal reported that plenty of poses are good for those with osteoporosis. Some exercises soothe aching joints and bones, while others put moderate amounts of weight on load-bearing muscles.

Q: How many people have osteoporosis?
A: About 10 million people have been diagnosed with it, according to the NOF, which estimates that another 34 million Americans are at risk of developing osteoporosis.

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