More seniors than ever before are embracing the deep breathing, gentle stretching, and soothing mindfulness of yoga. Yoga is a safe option for remaining active well into retirement, and a yoga class is a great way to make new friends and strengthen existing friendships.
While some seniors worry that yoga or other exercise regimens might not be safe as they age, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that people of all ages should exercise. There’s no age limitation on physical activity. Indeed, the older you get, the more you stand to gain from yoga. Here are 5 reasons to give yoga a try.
Yoga is Safe for Most Seniors
Yoga is a low-impact form of exercise, making it a great option for seniors with joint problems, mobility impairments, and high blood pressure. Most yoga poses can be modified to accommodate seniors’ needs. Many can even be performed from a wheelchair or sitting position. The risk of injury from yoga is very low, especially when seniors start slow and adapt poses to suit their needs. Indeed, for many seniors, yoga may even make it easier to manage certain injuries. Yoga can improve low back pain and support improved mobility.
Yoga Protects Muscles and Bones
As you age, bone density tends to decrease. This can cause osteoporosis and increase the risk of falls and other injuries. According to research published in 2016, 12 yoga poses can improve bone density. Over time, this can reduce the risk of fractures.
Yoga also strengthens muscles, improving flexibility and mobility. Stronger muscles can mean less pain, stronger bones, and a lower overall risk of injury.
Yoga Can Reduce Pain
Chronic pain, especially in the back and neck, is common in seniors. A sedentary lifestyle is a major risk factor for chronic pain. People who don’t get enough exercise often experience muscle tension and weakness. This can cause intense pain, and may make chronic conditions such as arthritis worse. Chronic pain, however, can make it difficult to exercise. This creates a vicious cycle of progressively intensifying chronic pain due to a sedentary lifestyle.
Yoga offers an easy, low-impact way to get moving. Research shows that it can relieve certain types of chronic pain, especially in the back. Yoga may also help with medical conditions that cause chronic pain, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Yoga Improves Quality of Life
Yoga is more than just an exercise routine. It’s a meditative practice that encourages slowing down, breathing deeply, and cultivating mindfulness, all of which can improve quality of life. A number of studies have found that yoga can even help improve mental health, including fighting depression. Because of this, yoga vacations for seniors have become popular. Seen as vacations with a purpose, they help seniors improve balance, flexibility, and a sense of well-being.
Yoga Boosts Overall Health
Exercise is one of the best things seniors can do to improve their health. Physical activity is linked to a reduction in virtually every health risk factor. It may also improve symptoms of dementia; some research suggests it can even counteract a gene for dementia.
Yoga can improve health by:
- Supporting a healthy heart and improving circulation.
- Helping to maintain a balanced metabolism.
- Improving breathing.
- Fostering better flexibility.
- Helping seniors maintain a healthy weight.
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