With 36 Americans actively practicing some form of yoga, it’s clear that its benefits are well understood. Yoga is an excellent form of low-impact exercise that also improves overall strength and mobility. And while certain types can be quite strenuous, there’s plenty of room in the broad spectrum of yoga methods for seniors to join in.
Here are some compelling reasons for seniors to consider taking up the practice of yoga:
- Help with Hypertension
With its element of steady breathing and slow, deliberate movements, yoga naturally causes the body’s heart rate and circulation to modulate, which is hugely beneficial in preventing and treating high blood pressure. Some studies suggest that practicing yoga can help seniors avoid taking certain medications, depending on their medical situation.
- Better Balance
Because aging affects strength and bone density, balance problems are common in the senior population. According to the National Council on Aging, falls are the number one cause of injury in seniors. With its strengthening poses and slow, controlled movements, yoga helps seniors improve their balance and coordination, which is important in preventing these falls.
- Arthritis and Chronic Joint Pain Relief
The stretching and greater flexibility that yoga promotes keep aging joints moving and lubricated, reducing inflammation and alleviating the pain associated with arthritis – a condition affecting nearly half of people 65 and older. Yoga movements can also help prevent conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome from taking hold, helping seniors keep up their desired daily activity levels with less pain and discomfort.
- Help With Diabetes Management
Type 2 diabetes remains a significant health issue among seniors, with one in four diagnosed over 65. Because stress plays a massive role in our body’s ability to regulate insulin production, people with diabetes need to work on managing stress levels. Practicing yoga is one of the most effective ways to help. Plus, certain poses also massage internal organs, helping to improve cholesterol and glucose levels.
- Improved Sleep Quality
With over 50% of seniors reportedly struggling with insomnia, many are looking for natural ways to improve their ability to get a decent night’s sleep. Yoga’s relaxation and deep breathing techniques, along with the moderate exertion it requires, can help seniors fall to sleep more quickly and stay asleep longer.
- Healthier Brain Activity
Many studies have shown the negative effect of stress on senior cognitive function. Achieving what physicians call the relaxation response can result in lower heart rate, cortisol levels, and blood pressure, helping the body deliver a healthier rate of blood and oxygen to the brain. Practicing yoga once or twice a week allows seniors to attain this level of relaxation critical to better neurological function.
Ready to get started? Head to the AARP for ideas on how to find the right class for you, and simple poses you can do on your own!