Yoga

  • Author:
    Richard Weil, MEd, CDE

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

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Who's doing yoga?

Apparently, many people are practicing yoga. According to a 2003 survey by the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association, an estimated 13.4 million Americans practice yoga or other mind-body exercises such as tai chi. Of those, an estimated 1.6 million were 55 or older. According to data published in 2004 in the journal Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, an estimated 15 million American adults have used yoga at least once in their lifetime, and individuals interviewed for that study reported that they used yoga for wellness (stress reduction, quality of life), health conditions, and specific ailments like back or neck pain. And 90% felt yoga was very or somewhat helpful.

What about kids and yoga?

Studies show that kids are getting less physical education today than ever before. Yoga for kids may be just the activity to help alleviate the problem. Kids can learn how to experience their physicality and learn how they move with yoga. It can also be fun! I encourage all parents to look for kids' yoga in your area and enroll your children.

What about seniors and yoga?

It's well known that balance, posture, and other elements of fitness and health diminish as we age. What if yoga could help? I'm not aware of yoga studies that specifically target seniors, but there may be hope. In a study of balance and tai chi (a Chinese martial art that uses slow, controlled poses to promote health) in 256 physically inactive adults aged 70 to 92 who practiced tai chi three times a week for six months, it was found that tai chi helped decrease the number of falls, the risk for falling, and the fear of falling, and it improved functional balance and physical performance. Although tai chi isn't yoga, there are similarities, and one could speculate that yoga might yield similar benefits.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/26/2015

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