Celebrate National Yoga Month

Celebrate National Yoga Month

By Life@TheU

Celebrate National Yoga Month

By Life@TheU
Take time to incorporate yoga practice into your week—and reap the health benefits that come with living an active lifestyle.

A national observance designated by the Department of Health and Human Services, National Yoga Month was designed to educate the community about the health benefits of yoga and to inspire a healthy lifestyle. Whether you’re new to the activity or have been practicing it for years, yoga can be a wonderful way to stay active and commune with your body and mind at any age.

Physical activity—like yoga—does a body good.

Along with eating a balanced diet rich in nutrients and low in sugar and salt, physical activity is one of the pillars of healthy living and has more healing power than you may think. According to Dr. Thomas Best, a sports medicine specialist at the University of Miami Sports Medicine Institute, regular physical activity can be just as effective as a medicinal drug for treating and preventing many different medical conditions and chronic illnesses, including decreasing pain, improving cognition, and reducing depression and anxiety symptoms. Dr. Best encourages condition-specific exercise routines for maximum health outcomes in both adults and children. A patient struggling with depression may benefit from yoga and pilates, he explained, while someone with COPD may benefit more from high intensity interval training. Find out more about getting started with an exercise routine, which includes consulting with your physician to learn what is safe for you.

Make physical activity a part of the daily routine.

For some people, it may feel like carving out an entire hour every day for exercise is not possible. According to Dr. Kristopher J. Paultre, a primary care sports medicine expert with the University of Miami Sports Medicine Institute, you can gain the same benefits by breaking it up into smaller chunks of activity throughout the day or week to reach 150 moderate minutes or 75 vigorous minutes per week—the recommended amount set forth by the American Heart Association. Instead of sitting on the couch to relax, incorporate yoga into that time or consider walking or jogging on the treadmill as you watch television shows or listen to podcasts. Learn more ways to sneak exercise into your day.

Tailor activity to your age.

As we get older, engaging in fitness or recreational activities that improve balance, flexibility, strength, and endurance can enhance quality of life and longevity. Seniors who stay fit find completing daily tasks easier and safer, which provides more energy and independence. Dr. Best emphasized the importance of both endurance and strength training, which are crucial aspects of overall health and longevity. Yoga—along with tai chi and physical therapy movements—are ideal balance exercises, which help prevent falls. Yoga can also improve flexibility, which helps release muscle tension, enables the body to stay limber, and widens the range of motion. Explore tips for active seniors.

Treat pelvic floor disorders.

During the past year, urologists have seen an uptick in patients with urinary frequency and infections, bladder pain, and pain radiating from the tailbone—just some of the concerns related to the muscles surrounding and supporting the urinary tract and bowel function, called the pelvic floor. Dr. Laura Martin—who specializes in treating the female pelvic organs and performs reconstructive surgery for the University of Miami Health System—noted that the increase likely stems from heightened stress surrounding the pandemic. And among typical life stressors, activities such as sitting at the computer all day may also lead to imbalances that affect the musculoskeletal system. But physical activity can help clear the mind, reduce stress on the body from prolonged sitting, and encourage blood circulation. Incorporating relaxing activities like yoga, walking, or swimming can help avoid and relieve pelvic floor disorders. Learn more about pelvic floor dysfunction and how to treat it.

Support mental health.

Through yoga and other mindful practices, many people take time to slow down and be present in the moment, which can help them to better handle obstacles and avoid burnout. For those struggling with panic attacks and anxiety disorders, incorporating movement—starting slowly with yoga—along with therapy and practicing specific calming techniques can be part of a treatment strategy.

Self-care is critical.

Prioritizing needs and behaviors to protect well-being requires emotional and physical awareness, particularly when the world feels like it's spinning out of control. According to Dr. Vanessa Padilla, a psychiatrist with the University of Miami Health System, putting yourself first ensures you are able to care for others. Activities like yoga, mindfulness, and meditation can help facilitate emotional self-care. Explore more ways to promote self-care.

Get started and be consistent—but know when to take a break.

To get started, walking is an easy and functional way to start a fitness program. Whether you keep track of steps, miles, or minutes spent walking per day, choose a day and time to get started and schedule it into the week. If walking isn’t challenging enough, find ways to build endurance, which will allow incorporation of more demanding activities like yoga, dancing, and kickboxing.

Working out when sick can worsen symptoms and slow recovery. Certain symptoms can be a warning sign to take a break or cut back on exercising until the body feels  better. Dr. Best advised to skip the workout when symptoms are below the neck. Fever, vomiting, diarrhea, or a wet cough with phlegm are signs that the body would benefit from rest.

Access the medical care you need at a UHealth facility or via telehealth by scheduling an appointment. Find additional information about scheduling or call 305-243-4000. 

Live Well with UHealth is a series that highlights curated content from articles previously published on UMiami Health News, a website that shares health tips and insights into research discoveries that change lives, brought to you by the experts at the University of Miami Health System. This story highlights the following articles.