10 Health Benefits of Yoga for Seniors

Looking for the best gift for grandma and grandpa this year? How about a . . . yoga mat! You heard that right – yoga isn’t just for the hyper-flexible 20-somethings or the spiritual gurus anymore. Even though it is thousands of years old, yoga practice has most recently made inroads into western culture in the past few decades, inviting people young and old to join in on the relaxing and health-boosting activity.

When it comes to senior citizens practicing yoga, the number of people over 65 taking to the mat is growing drastically year by year – so much so, that yoga studios and gyms are offering more , chair yoga, and senior yoga classes than ever before. Here are just a handful of reasons yoga is beneficial for senior health:

Better Breathing

Few people think about strengthening the respiratory system as part of their workout routine, but the respiratory system is largely comprised of muscles you can tone just like you do arms or legs, including the diaphragm which helps you take air in and out. Yoga incorporates mindful deep breathing techniques as part of its meditation and stretching (position) components. Deep breathing promotes mental clarity, widens the lungs, and can even help regulate the heartbeat.

Reduced Risk of Falling

As yoga practice strengthens your sense of coordination and flexibility, it also improves your sense of balance and ability to catch and adjust yourself when you experience a trip or stumble. This is critically important for seniors as 1 out of 3 will experience a fall over the age of 65, most in their own home. Yoga practice often includes holding certain positions on one foot or leg at a time as well as bending, turning, and extending extremities to explore deeper alignment and balance. Reducing fall risk for seniors can help prevent broken bones, hospital stays, bruising and more.

Back Pain Relief

The gentle stretching of yoga aids sore and achy back muscles by drawing out and lengthening them as well as boosting blood flow to soothe painful inflammation. Back pain is one of the most common complaints of older adults and is often the result of overuse, like bending over at the garden for 6 hours at a time, or awkward movements, like straining the arm to reach behind a piece of furniture to plug something in. Yoga, combined with massage, acupuncture, or ice and heat therapy can provide pain relief without the use of oral medications.

Stronger Bones

The incredible thing about bone density is that your body naturally produces calcium, and when it is called for, it builds up bones with it organically. That’s why exercises like yoga, which involve standing in certain poses and calling on the strength of legs and feet in particular to execute weight-bearing activity, helps tone important mobility muscles as well as potentially reverse age-related bone loss.

Stress Relief

The calming and restorative aspects of yoga practice make it a practical application for stress and anxiety relief. Not only can yoga help release muscle and joint tension from stress in the neck, back and shoulders, but its principles of self-actualization and kindness help practitioners find peace and calm to combat feelings of anxiety and depression. Yoga also strengthens concentration and serves as a multi-sensory exploration which overtime can trigger the body to produce more feel-good hormones.

Improved Cognitive Function

Yoga marries mindful meditation with a boost in blood flow because of increased heart rate – that is a recipe for brain health if you’ve ever heard one! Brain plasticity, or the ability of the brain to adapt and restructure when it is stimulated, is employed in a couple ways with yoga. First off, learning any new hobby is important to building newer and stronger neural pathways, and learning yoga is no exception. And second, increased blood flow to the brain carries more vital nutrients and oxygen to this critical organ, helping combat dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Social Interaction

Like many exercises and activities, yoga is even more fun when you go to class with a friend. The social engagement of getting out and exercising with others, taking part in in-person conversations, and exploring new experiences together is vital to brain stimulation and brain health. In addition, interacting with others regularly can help seniors especially fight off feelings of loneliness, depression, and social isolation.

Joint Pain Relief

Arthritis affects 1 out of 5 adults in the U.S., with many seniors specifically experiencing painful rheumatoid or osteoarthritis effects. Swollen, stiff joints make it hard to stay active and do the things you love. The gentle flowing movements of yoga help loosen and lubricate joints as well as boost blood circulation and deliver vital nutrients and oxygen to important muscles and connective joint tissues.

Lowered Blood Pressure

With 80 million Americans experiencing hypertension (high blood pressure) yearly, finding natural ways to lower blood pressure is a must for preventing heart disease and stroke. Natural risk factors for hypertension include stress, being overweight, and heart disease. Yoga helps seniors maintain a healthy waistline, induces deep stress-relieving relaxation, and strengthens the heart and arteries by getting the heart rate up and increasing overall blood circulation.

Better Articleure

Hunched backs and slumped shoulders plague almost every generation, not just the older ones, but as you do age, it becomes easier and easier to slouch and slump as your body gets more tired and creaky. Yoga helps combat bad posture by elongating and re-aligning the spine, stretching and tuning back and core muscles, and making you extra aware of your body and how you feel.

Interested for yourself or a loved one? It’s never been easier to get started with yoga than now. You can livestream guided instructional yoga videos for beginners online at Youtube.com or DoYogaWithMe.com, or find free and discounted yoga classes near you – look at your local senior center, YMCA, or use YogaFinder.com to track one down that fits your schedule. With all the health benefits yoga has to offer older adults, there is no reason not to give it a try.

 

Image courtesy of [arztsamui] at FreeDigitalPhotos.net



Related Articles

Leave a Comment

Loading...