Stress, Aging and Yoga: How Breathing Helps You Lose Weight
As an adult in today’s fast paced world you have more on your plates than ever. Your job is demanding, the housework is never ending, your kids seem determined to drive you mad and it’s getting harder to ignore those frown lines. On a positive note, your eyesight isn’t what it used to be, so perhaps with the right pair of baggy pants, an over sized t-shirt and a lot of squinting, you can convince yourself that the person you see in the mirror isn’t actually twenty pounds heavier than they were ten years ago. Sound familiar?
It can be difficult to remain fit while growing older in a stressful world. As if the slowing of our metabolism is not enough we also have cortisol to contend with. Cortisol, a hormone secreted by the adrenal glands, regulates many different things in the body, one being our “fight or flight” response, which exists to keep us on our toes during intense situations. Unfortunately, everyday stress can lead to higher than normal levels of cortisol, causing a number of problems such as high blood pressure, decreased bone density and you guessed it: weight gain.In a 1997 study by the Ernest Orlando Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory it was found that men over the age of fifty begin to gradually lose muscle mass as they age while adding inches around the waist. And a 2001 study published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology concluded that high levels of cortisol led women to reach for the sugary and salty snacks, resulting in an over abundance of calories. But studies have also shown that people who are restrictive in their diets tend to have higher levels of cortisol. So what exactly are we supposed to do?
There is hope. Keeping active, being mindful of a balanced diet and finding ways to reduce stress can all help us keep a healthy weight. This is where having powerful tools such as yoga and meditation come in handy.
Most of us tend to think of “working out” as well…work. So it’s ironic that something so relaxing can actually help us lose weight. But once we understand what stress can do to our bodies it begins to make sense how stretching and deep breathing with deliberate intent can have such an effect. In 2005, researcher and active yogi Alan Kristal, DPH, MPH, found that doing at least one thirty minute yoga session per week for four or more years helped people lose weight, while those who did no yoga at all gained an average of fourteen pounds.
Many people struggle with feelings of guilt about taking the time for themselves when there is so much to get done. It takes practice to overcome those feelings and realize that when we calm ourselves we actually gain energy to help us take care of our duties. Even a short meditation session done in the car, the office or the bathroom can have a profound effect on well being and weight loss.
Sometimes, slow and steady really does win the race. So what are you waiting for? Get started with yoga and meditation today, and enjoy a thinner, healthier and younger looking you in the future.
About the Author: Get ready to relieve stress and lose weight as Suzanne Andrews, star of Functional Fitness airing to over 45 million on PBS TV, guides you with the best selling doctor approved stress releasing beginner yoga DVD and weight loss meditation CD set designed by a licensed rehab practitioner suitable for plus size and out of shape adults. Pretzel poses not included. Beginners Dynamic Yoga DVD/CD set available now on Amazon.