For many senior adults, the downward dog and camel poses are just as much part of their morning routine as coffee and the newspaper.
Yoga can help improve muscle strength, aerobic fitness, balance, flexibility and mobility – all of which are important to older adults. It’s also a low-impact activity that is easy on the joints, which is imperative in any exercise regimen for seniors.
Here are 10 benefits of yoga for older adults.
Falls are the leading cause of both fatal and non-fatal injuries for older adults. In fact, every 11 seconds, one in four Americans age 65 and older falls each year.1
Yoga can help improve your balance and stability, which reduces your risk of a fall.
At least one study has found yoga to be an effective way of managing osteoarthritis in older women.2
As we age, our respiratory health can decline, as does our ability to tolerate physical exertion. But studies have shown that yoga can improve respiratory function in older adults.3
High blood pressure is common in older adults and can lead to cardiovascular and kidney diseases. Scientists have found that yoga can reduce the level of oxidative stress in seniors, which is one of the underlying causes of high blood pressure and heart attacks.4
Seniors can be at an increased risk for anxiety due to failing health, financial strains and loneliness. Through its meditative techniques, yoga can promote relaxation, reduce stress and improve mindfulness, all of which can alleviate anxiety.
Multiple studies have shown yoga to help ease the discomfort brought on by arthritis, back pain and other chronic pain suffered by many older adults.
As we age, the discs between our vertebrae compress and the spine becomes more curved, resulting in slouching and poor posture. But there are several yoga poses that can help improve your posture, which can in turn build confidence and self-esteem.
Digestive problems often arise in old age as the muscles in our digestive tracts become weaker, stiffer and less efficient at doing their job. Yoga acts as an internal massage and can stimulate and strengthen the muscles needed for a well-working digestive system.
Our bones become brittle and weak as we age, which can leave us with an increased risk of broken bones from accidents and falls. Studies have shown that just 10 minutes of yoga per day can increase bone density in the spine and hips of people with osteoporosis or osteopenia.5
The arteries and veins in our circulatory systems begin to wear down as we age, resulting in restricted circulation of our blood throughout the body. And conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure can exacerbate the problem.
Movement is the key to maintaining good blood circulation, and there are several yoga positions that can open up the circulatory system and get the blood flowing freely again.
If you have a Medicare Advantage plan (Medicare Part C), your plan may be able to help you get involved with yoga.
Many Medicare Advantage plans include memberships to SilverSneakers, which is a gym program for older adults that can include yoga and other fitness classes.
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This article is for informational purposes only. It is not healthcare advice. Speak to your doctor or healthcare provider about your specific healthcare needs.
1 National Council on Aging. Falls Prevention Facts. Retrieved from www.ncoa.org/news/resources-for-reporters/get-the-facts/falls-prevention-facts.
2 Cheung et al. Yoga for managing knee osteoarthritis in older women: a pilot randomized controlled trial. (May 18, 2014). BMC Complementary & Alternative Medicine. doi:10.1186/1472-6882-14-160.
3 Bezerra et al. Do 12-week yoga program influence respiratory function of elderly women? (Nov. 12, 2014). Journal of Human Kinetics. doi:10.2478/hukin-2014-0103.
4 Patil et al. Effect of yoga on oxidative stress in elderly with grade-I hypertension: a randomized controlled study. (July, 2014). Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research. doi:10.7860/JCDR/2014/9498.4586.
5 Harvard Women’s Health Watch. Yoga: Another way to prevent osteoporosis? (May, 2016). Harvard Health Publishing. Retrieved from www.health.harvard.edu/womens-health/yoga-another-way-to-prevent-osteoporosis.