Maintaining an active lifestyle can be difficult for seniors. However, exercise and good physical health are essential for all ages. Caregivers can help seniors to stay fit and active through gentle movements. Yoga, which focuses on postures and breathing, is one example of such a practice.
What is yoga?
Seniors might see yoga as a New Age practice aimed at women in their 30s and 40s. According to the National Institute on Aging, NIH researchers are looking at ways to improve the health of older adults through gentle, safe yoga.
While some poses may be too challenging for seniors, the beauty of yoga is that they can be easily modified to fit those with limited mobility.
Yoga has many benefits for the whole body. Let’s look at how yoga can benefit seniors’ mental and bodily health.
Yoga for Seniors: Nine Benefits
- Chronic pain relief. Muscles and joints can become weaker with age, especially after years of regular use. These aches and pains can be relieved by various yoga poses and stretches. Stress can also be a contributing factor to seniors’ pain and inflammation. Yoga can help reduce stress. According to one study, participants who practiced yoga for four weeks had less need to take pain medication.
- You will get better sleep. Insomnia can lead to other health problems. Yoga could be a great way to help seniors fall asleep faster and sleep better throughout the night. A study found that yoga was more effective than herbal remedies for sleeping disorders. Yoga’s relaxation breathing techniques may be responsible.
- Lower blood pressure. You can also reduce blood pressure by listening to music or other relaxing activities. Many students experience lower blood pressure after their first class of yoga. Students report lower blood pressure as they continue to practice yoga. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, seniors who exercise regularly have lower stroke rates, coronary heart disease, and high blood pressure.
- Less stress. Most yoga is practiced in calm and peaceful surroundings. Yoga can calm and even stop the body’s fight/flight response during stressful times. Yoga’s slow breathing helps to relieve anxiety and stress, which can help seniors (especially those with dementia) feel more at ease.
- Management of Type 2 Diabetes. Seniors may be shocked to discover that yoga can help them manage their condition. Stress can affect insulin production. It also massages the inner organs, which improves cholesterol and glucose levels. Yoga poses that are suitable for seniors should be encouraged by caregivers who are interested in diabetes management.
- More stability and balance. Fall hazards can occur in everyday activities. Yoga can help avoid these falls by strengthening the core muscles, which keep the body stable.
- More flexibility. Older people are more likely to have stiff joints and muscles. Yoga is gentle and increases flexibility and range. These movements both strengthen and loosen muscles.
- Better respiration. Seniors can often have breathing problems as they age. A decrease in oxygen supply can cause problems throughout the body. Yoga helps seniors to be more aware of their breathing. You will also learn breathing techniques to increase oxygen flow. One study found that women who had a 12-week yoga program experienced improvements in their respiratory function.
- Mindfulness. Seniors in the early stages of dementia, moving into nursing homes, or adjusting to new daily routines all benefit from mindfulness and stress reduction. During a yoga class, participants learn to be aware of their thoughts, emotions, and body. This mindfulness technique helps seniors to stay connected to the natural world.