The Benefits of Yoga for Seniors

May 15, 2018

With over 20 million Americans now practicing some form of yoga, it’s clear that its benefits are well understood, and include three of the most beneficial for seniors – low-impact cardio, resistance training, and stretching. And while certain types can be quite strenuous, there’s plenty of room in the broad spectrum of yoga methods for ones that are gentle enough for seniors but still meet those important criteria. Have you been curious about trying it out, but never made the time? 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 both the prevention and treatment of high blood pressure. Some studies even suggest that practicing yoga can help seniors avoid having to take certain medications, depending on their individual medical situation.
  • Better Balance: Because aging affects strength and bone density, balance problems are common in the senior population. In fact, falls are the number one cause of injury in seniors, according to the National Council on Aging.  With its strengthening poses and slow, controlled movements, yoga helps seniors improve their balance and coordination, which is so important in preventing these falls from happening.
  • Relief from arthritis and chronic joint pain: The stretching and greater flexibility that yoga promotes keeps 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 carpel tunnel syndrome from taking hold, helping seniors to keep up their desired level of daily activity 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 the age of 65. Because stress plays a huge role in our body’s ability to regulate insulin production, it’s especially important for diabetics 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 even the moderate exertion it requires, can help seniors become able to fall sleep more easily and stay asleep longer.
  • Healthier Brain Activity: Many studies have shown the negative effect that stress has on senior cognitive function. Being able to achieve 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 helps seniors attain this level of relaxation so critical to better neurological function.

Want more information? Head to the AARP for ideas on how to find the right class for you, as well as simple poses you can do on your own!