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  • Writer's pictureFran Clark

Which is the Best Exercise for Women Over 50: Yoga or Qi Gong?

A woman doing yoga stretches on the beach

A Journey To Holistic Wellness

For years I have incorporated Yoga into my 'keep fit' routine, mixing cardio, Zumba and running into the staying fit mix. As I got older and the menopause middle began to appear, I couldn't understand why I was finding it so hard to lose the weight. I began upping all the exercise and really watching what I was eating. Over time, several channels of investigation told me that the key to losing this weight, when you're a woman over 50, is not to be more active but to become more efficient at burning the calories. I learned that the things I did in my 20s, 30s and even my 40s, were no longer going to work for my new body.

I discovered, it wasn't just my body that I needed to change, it was my mind, too. And so began my journey into Holistic Wellness.

I had to look at the whole picture. The why the weight was not coming off and the why I wanted it to. Basically the extra pounds were getting me down and I didn't feel comfortable in my new skin. I don't have a problem with anyone being overweight. I just didn't want to be. And this affected my state of mind. So instead of trying to survive on a lettuce leaf to make me feel good about myself I had to become mindful and guide what my body was doing, using not only physicality but mindfulness, too.

That was easy, I was already doing yoga. All I needed to do was up my yoga game, add in more mindfulness and meditation and I was set. I went a step further than that. I began intermittent fasting which for me is a very mindful way of eating and the pounds shed. I lost a stone and half in a month and it never came back. Mindfulness, yoga and changing my focus from cardio to strength training have all been key to this holistic journey.

Yoga on its own has been a wonderful and meaningful part of my journey but certain aspects of it began not to resonate with me and in recent years I something else caught my attention. Qi Gong.

Swapping Yoga for QI Gong

In the realm of holistic wellness practices, Yoga and Qi Gong stand out as two formidable contenders. Both offer profound benefits for the mind, body, and spirit, but they do so through different pathways. For women over the age of 50, the choice between the two can significantly impact your overall well-being.

Yoga, with its roots in ancient Indian philosophy can enhance flexibility, strength, and mental clarity. Its emphasis on asanas (physical postures), pranayama (breath control), and meditation promotes balance and harmony within the body. For women in their 50s, yoga offers numerous benefits, including improved joint health, stress reduction, and increased bone density—crucial for preventing osteoporosis, which becomes more common with age.

However, as much as yoga is revered, after years of doing it, I realised that it was responsible for some of the joint pains I was getting. Particularly in my lower back. As I eased out of regular yoga and into developing my Qi Gong practice, pains in my back, neck and knees began to go away.

Qi Gong is an ancient Chinese art that focuses on cultivating Qi, or life energy, through gentle movements, breathwork, and meditation. Unlike yoga, Qi Gong's movements are slow, deliberate, and accessible to people of all fitness levels. It emphasizes the flow of energy through the body's meridian channels, promoting relaxation, stress reduction, and improved circulation. For women in their 50s, Qi Gong offers a low-impact yet highly effective way to maintain vitality and enhance overall well-being.

One of the primary advantages of Qi Gong over yoga is its adaptability. Qi Gong can be practiced standing, seated, or even lying down, making it ideal for people with mobility issues or who are recovering from injuries. Its gentle nature also makes it suitable for people of all ages, including seniors looking to maintain their health and vitality.

Now that I have been practicing Qi Gong for a while and stayed away from yoga, I recently started incorporating stretches into my evening wind down routine and found that I wasn't as flexible as I was when I was an avid yogi. That set off alarm bells. We need to be flexible, right? So back came the yoga and I'm making sure I'm being careful with the way I practice it so that I don't revert to having the aches and pains that yoga had previously given me. Balance both is the answer for me.

So which is the best exercise for women over 50 - Can We Have it All?

In a busy life filled with responsibilities and obligations, both yoga and Qi Gong offer invaluable tools for self-care and stress management. The meditative aspects of these practices have provided a sanctuary for me, allowing me to cultivate inner peace and resilience in the face of challenges. Moreover, the physical benefits of improved flexibility, strength, and balance has contributed to overall vitality. Maybe it's adding to longevity, too. Who knows, but I certainly feel that in midlife I've found grace and confidence.

In conclusion, to decide which is the best exercise for women over 50, you'll really have to find the path that works for you. I just know that I wouldn't be able to navigate my work, rest and play without having been on this journey. The journey continues. So whether you're flowing through asanas or harmonizing the flow of Qi, the path to well-being is a personal one, guided by intention, mindfulness, and self-love.

Take care and tell me about your wellness journey below!

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And check out my latest release, A Prayer For Junie.

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