As an orthopedist, I treat a lot of older men for conditions of their bones and joints. Many of them are doing what they can to keep bone density strong by working out several times a week doing the traditional “guy stuff” type of exercise – lifting heavy free weights, doing TRX, or Insanity, etc. And all that’s great for strengthening your heart, keeping fat percentage down and stimulating bone growth.
But, it doesn’t do much for 2 other things a man also needs, especially as he gets older – flexibility and agility. So, I’d like to tell you about a workout that’s geared just for men that has it all – muscle and bone strength, improving balance and agility and boosting relaxation through stress release. It’s called Broga – yoga for “brothers” – and, as an orthopedist, I can assure you, it’s not your wife’s yoga.
Hang With The Guys and Get An Age-Defying Workout Too
Broga is yoga created by Robert Sidoti with the specific goal of bringing the benefit of yoga exercise to men who traditionally wouldn’t think of doing their wives or girlfriends exercise. Yet, more and more male athletes – football, baseball, basketball, Olympic hopefuls – have gotten into doing yoga – especially when they gain greater flexibility in their game.
So, Broga, is just yoga moves geared specifically towards boosting a man’s natural strengths – strong upper back, shoulders, chest, arms as well as improving core strength and flexibility. Broga also helps relax hamstring, and other muscle, tightness that typical guy-type weight lifting can aggravate through isolating muscles and lack of stretching that men don’t do much of. Tightness anywhere in the body can decrease flexibility and also lead to pain, injuries and possibly even eventual dysfunction of movement.
Broga also builds lower back strength – another weak spot of potential injury and pain for men. Yet, throughout the entire body, Broga moves strengthen the smaller, supporting muscles as well as lengthen the overlying, bigger muscles with the result of strength, flexibility and agility of movement. These are important at any age, but especially as you get older.
As an older man, you need to move your muscles in a way that stimulates bone growth and preserves density to prevent fractures. But, you also need to increase your flexibility and balance to prevent falls that can result in dangerous fractures. Broga can help you do all of these. And, it’s all done in a (usually) guys-only environment so guys can work out without either the distractions of a co-ed gym or feeling self-conscious in their loose yoga pants and socks.
Even though the workout focuses on physical issues that are typical to a man’s physique, your wife or girlfriend are also welcome to join in the workout with you. However, you may want to keep your Broga class as a “guy time” or just “me time” workout.
Broga is suitable for the out-of-shape beginner as well as the more advanced man who’s been doing exercise regularly. But with Broga, it’s not just stretching and getting into different positions while relaxing music plays. It also gives a challenging cardio workout as well. Broga also includes some popular higher intensity cardio-based exercises.
Moves like the “burpee” where you’re alternating jumping up and touching the ground, or “mountain climber” where you support yourself prone on your hands and alternately, rapidly move your legs in a running, or fast climbing, move, help also build cardiorespiratory strength and endurance. So, it’s a workout that aims to make you feel both comfortable and challenged.
With Broga, many men who had trouble leaning down to touch their toes, from either too much belly fat, tight hamstrings, lower back and buttock muscles, find that after doing Broga moves for a short while they’ve regained the flexibility to stretch down to the floor.
And if you’re concerned that Broga’s more a younger man’s form of social exercise, think again. Many older men have gotten into practicing yoga specifically for the relaxation and flexibility, as well as strengthening, it offers. In fact, many yoga/Broga classes are starting to include many older men who’ve come to enjoy the unexpected benefits the exercise offers.
You can find Broga classes nationwide. You might start with your local recreational center or Family Y, or check out their website to see what a Broga class might look like for an older man.
So if you’ve secretly been envying your wife or girlfriend’s sense of relaxation, agility, and commitment to her yoga class, you might want to give Broga a try and find out what you’ve been missing. You’ll be doing your bones, your muscles and your sense of well-being a world of good. Plus enjoy the camaraderie of other guys working towards the same goals.
Mark Bromson, M.D.