Regular exercise is just as -- if not more -- important for seniors as it is for younger people.
However, many seniors don’t get anywhere near the amount of exercise that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend (150 minutes of cardiovascular exercise per week plus at least two days of strength training).
If you’re struggling to find the right exercise program, you ought to consider yoga. Yoga is a great compliment to other forms of exercise, and it also provides the following health benefits for seniors.
1. Better Balance
Falls are the leading cause of injury for seniors. One in four seniors falls each year, and one dies from fall-related injuries every 19 minutes.
To decrease your risk of falls and the injuries that can accompany them, it’s important to work on your balance. Yoga is a great option to do this in a safe group environment.
You can even look for yoga classes that are specifically designed for seniors.
These classes often include props like chairs for extra support, and they typically move slower than traditional classes, so you’ll have the time you need to get situated in a pose before you have to transition to the next one.
2. Natural Pain Relief
Whether you suffer from arthritis-related pain or are in need of plantar fasciitis treatment, yoga can help.
The movements practiced in yoga help to lubricate the joints, which improves mobility and flexibility. The more mobile you are, the less pain you’ll experience in your joints and muscles as you go about your day.
Yoga can also improve your posture and make standing up straight much easier.
3. Increased Bone and Muscle Strength
Yoga is considered a weight-bearing exercise, meaning that it requires you to stand on your feet (at least some of the time). When you’re standing, your bones and muscles have to work together to fight gravity and keep you standing upright.
Exercises like walking, jogging, and playing tennis are also weight-bearing exercises. However, they can be too intense for some people, especially those who haven’t exercised in a long time. One of the many benefits of yoga for senior citizens is the fact that the movements are gentle on the joints.
Yoga is a great option for seniors who want to strengthen their muscles and bones in a low-impact way while also preventing fractures and conditions like osteoporosis.
Weight-bearing exercises like yoga also help seniors manage their weight. This is a crucial step in preventing a number of conditions, including heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and arthritis.
4. Reduced Blood Pressure
Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is known to contribute to heart disease and kidney disease.
To combat the oxidative stress that causes high blood pressure, seniors can practice yoga regularly.
Recent studies show that the calming aspects of a regular yoga practice can fight this stress by helping seniors strengthen their antioxidant defenses.
5. Better Mental Health
In addition to all the physical benefits of yoga, it also comes with a number of mental benefits that can’t be ignored.
Yoga encourages mindfulness and naturally lowers the body’s fight-or-flight response, making it a useful tool for preventing anxiety.
The calm, restorative nature of yoga -- coupled with the supportive classroom environment -- can also help ward off feelings of depression, something many seniors experience as they age.
Yoga is a great exercise option for seniors who want to feel better both physically and mentally. Check out a class near you today to start reaping all the benefits yoga has to offer.