Get plenty of calcium, vitamin D, and—yoga? When it comes to osteoporosis and osteopenia treatment or prevention, you might just be hearing that last recommendation more often, thanks in part to the findings from a decade-long study led by Dr. Loren Fishman, which were reported in the journal Topics of Geriatric Rehabilitation this past November.
Dr. Fishman and colleagues studied the effects of 12 poses—vrksasana (tree pose), trikonasana (triangle pose), virabhadrasana II (warrior II), parsvakonasana (side-angle pose), parivrtta trikonasana (revolved triangle), shalabhasana (locust pose), setu bandhasana p(bridge pose), two supine hand-to-foot (supta padangusthasana) variations, two seated twists, and savasana (corpse pose). All together, the practice took about 12 minutes to complete, and participants were given DVDs to practice with.
741 participants were recruited for the study, via the internet, and 227 of them stuck with a daily or every-other-day yoga routine, labeled by the study’s abstract as either “fully compliant” or “moderately compliant.” 89% of the remaining participants were women, with an average age of 68. Over 80% of participants had been diagnosed with osteoporosis or osteopenia.
Researchers collected data on participants bone mineral density (BMD) at the start of the study and again ten years later.
And the findings? Encouraging! Bone mineral density improved for the 227 “fully compliant” and “moderately compliant” participants in their spines, hips, and femurs. Researchers wrote that “No yoga-related serious injuries were imaged or reported. Bone quality appeared qualitatively improved in yoga practitioners.”
Of course more research is needed, but these findings are none the less, hopeful, and perhaps provide practitioners with yet one more reason to make it to the mat each day.