Physical exercise is beneficial for every one of us, no matter the age. But as we get older, yoga for the elderly is super-important as it improves balance, flexibility, reduces joint pain and chances of suffering from high blood pressure.
It’s no secret that being active is much more of a challenge when we become elderly. Yet, studies show that it is essential to a longer and healthier life when we work out or play sports as we age.
Encouraging seniors to exercise more means finding the right type of activity so they can stick with it and enjoy the benefits.
One of the best workouts for seniors is yoga. It is good for any age, but seniors especially need it for many benefits.
Yoga has a reputation as being expensive, but there are many programs out there for seniors.
Many senior centers are now offering affordable or even free yoga lessons. And some Medicare gap insurance companies offer full or partial coverage of gyms where yoga is practiced.
Mutual of Omaha had a trial for a period and there are others as well, so it is something just about any senior can access.
In this article, I will go over the reasons why yoga is so good for the elderly.
Health Benefits Of Yoga For The Elderly
Here are the main benefits of yoga for people over 50:
1. Improves Balance
When the elderly start seeing their health decline, it is usually after a fall. It is common for them to have trouble with balance and transitioning from one position to another when becoming dizzy.
Maintaining and improving balance is essential for older people to avoid those falls.
One of the ways yoga helps with balance is by focusing attention on breathing. And paying attention to poses, we become more aware of our body positioning.
This means that even with eyes closed, you have some awareness of your body in relation to the space around you. And when moving, you know how better to move within that space to avoid getting dizzy.
Weight distribution is also improved which aids in keeping your balance. Overall, the increase in flexibility also has an effect on balance.
2. Boosts Joint Health And Flexibility
Stiff, achy joints make moving around uncomfortable. And the elderly tend to sit a lot, which ends up affecting their health in a bad way.
To end that joint pain or at least reduce it, yoga is the ideal solution.
Stretching keeps the ligaments loose and elastic so joints don’t get stiff as much. It helps prevent osteoarthritis, especially in women, without taking any kind of medication.
Not only do the ligaments loosen, but the poses help keep joints aligned properly so they don’t tend to get stiff.
And with the spine aligned, posture improves so there is less chance of an injury due to being stiff.
It seemed like osteoarthritis is just a part of aging that we have to accept. Yet, when yoga is done regularly, it shows dramatic results.
3. Reduces High Blood Pressure
Oxidative stress is one of the leading causes of high blood pressure and increases the risk of cardiovascular disease in the elderly.
This is an imbalance in the body between oxygen-containing molecules with an uneven number of electrons.
When doing any exercise, oxygen is brought to the blood and then circulated throughout the body.
Yoga, in particular, is great for this as the stretches help open up the circulation. Combined with better breathing, this boost in oxygen-rich blood cells keeps blood pressure down.
There is also a meditative component of yoga which helps reduce blood pressure due to stress.
Many seniors worry about things like their health, finances, and loved ones and increase the risk of high blood pressure from this stress.
Since yoga is also great for reducing stress, blood pressure follows suit.
4. Increases Mindfulness
Keeping the mind sharp at any age is a challenge. When we get older, the synapses slow down and our brain function does too.
To keep it working well, we need to practice mindfulness. Being in the moment is beneficial because it allows our brain to think clearly.
A cluttered mind can slow us down in many ways. Forgetfulness, distractions, and an inability to focus, all come from a lack of mindfulness.
Yoga connects our thoughts to our breathing and helps center the mind so we can stay in the moment and work on one thing at a time in our brains.
This is essential as we age to stay independent.
The earlier we start doing yoga, the better. If we wait until we are already slowing down, it will still help. But it is better to already have it a routine and habit to put off the effects of aging.
It is never too late to start, however!
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