Low-Impact Yoga, Pilates Brings Big Health Benefits at All Ages

Low-Impact Yoga, Pilates Brings Big Health Benefits at All Ages

Yoga and Pilates are suitable for people of all ages and fitness levels, medical experts say.

These low-impact workouts don’t require special equipment and, after initial training, can be done at home to improve physical and mental health.

“Both use your own body weight and can be tailored for levels from beginner to advanced,” said Dr. Jayson Loeffert. He’s a primary care sports medicine physician at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

Pilates aims to strengthen core muscles between the shoulders and pelvis, while yoga tends to focus on the mind-body connection, and often includes meditation and breathing techniques. Yoga can help people manage stress, according to the American Osteopathic Association.

Both exercises include slow, careful movements that can improve strength, balance and flexibility. Beginners should attend classes to learn how to do these exercises correctly, Loeffert advised.

Because they are low impact, yoga and Pilates are ideal for people with arthritis or injuries. “Most people can tolerate it without much problem,” Loeffert said. “It’s good for healing.”

The exercises also help people with diabetes, high blood pressure or neuropathy (problems with nerves) in their legs, he said.

Yoga and Pilates have other benefits, too, according to nurse practitioner Barbara Cole, who is also at Penn State Health. Among them: preventing and treating back pain; boosting posture and balance; increasing range of motion; and improving sleep.

Pregnant women and people with high blood pressure, risk of blood clots, herniated disks or other pre-existing conditions should check with their doctor before beginning yoga or Pilates, Cole recommended.

Even a One-Minute Run Might Help a Woman’s Bones

Even a One-Minute Run Might Help a Woman’s Bones

Just a minute or two of running every day could strengthen your bones, new research suggests.

British scientists found that women who engage in “brief bursts” of any high-intensity, weight-bearing physical activity had 4 percent better bone health than their less active peers.

“We don’t yet know whether it’s better to accumulate this small amount of exercise in bits throughout each day or all at once, and also whether a slightly longer bout of exercise on one or two days per week is just as good as one to two minutes a day,” said study author Victoria Stiles. She’s a senior lecturer in Sport and Health Sciences at the University of Exeter.

“But there’s a clear link between this kind of high-intensity, weight-bearing exercise and better bone health in women,” Stiles said in a university news release.

For the study, the researchers compared data on more than 2,500 women. The women wore monitors for one week to track their activity levels, and underwent ultrasounds of their heel bones to assess their bone health.

“We wanted to make every second count in our analysis, because short snippets of high-intensity activity are more beneficial to bone health than longer, continuous periods,” Stiles said. “We were careful not to ignore short bursts of activity throughout the day.”

Women who exercised intensely for more than two minutes each day had 6 percent better bone health. For younger women, this was the equivalent of a medium-paced run. For postmenopausal women, this meant a slow jog, the researchers said.

Since the findings are based on a particular group of women at a specific point in time, it’s unclear if the intense physical activity improved the women’s bone health or if women with stronger bones tend to do more of this type of exercise. So, the study did not prove that running causes bone health to improve.

“However, it seems likely that just one to two minutes of running a day is good for bone health,” Stiles said.

More information

The National Osteoporosis Foundation provides more information on¬†women’s bone health¬†.