How Can Seniors Make the Most of Yoga?
38% of Yogis are Over 50
By: Jennifer Perkins
The number of people that practice yoga in the U.S. has more than doubled to 36.7 million over the past decade, with the Yoga in America study showing that 17% are in their 50s and 21% are aged 60 or above. Yoga is ideal for seniors because it wields many benefits that can be particularly useful at this age – including the fact that it reduces the heart rate and blood pressure, and relieves anxiety, depression, and back pain and headaches. If you are a senior and you are considering taking up this millenary practice, how can you ensure you enjoy all of its benefits while staying safe?
Yoga with Benefits
Activities such as chair yoga are proving very popular among seniors, who enjoy having the extra stability that a chair can provide while performing catered asanas. If you have osteoarthritis, chair yoga is ideal, with one recent study carried out at Florida Atlantic University finding that it is an effective way to reduce pain while avoiding medication or adverse events for the millions of people who are battling osteoarthritis in the hip, knee, ankle, or foot. Researchers noted that yoga can help reduce the limiting effects of pain, thus enabling seniors to carry out the daily activities they enjoy. “The potential impact of this study on public health is high, as this program provides an approach for keeping community-dwelling elders active even when they cannot participate in traditional exercise that challenges their balance,” noted researchers.
One of the biggest health risks for seniors is that of falls. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every year, more than one in four adults aged 65 or more will fall. Every year, three million emergency department visits are made. Every year, 28,000 results from falls. To boost their confidence, seniors often rely on alert systems that inform emergency departments if they have fallen. However, self-confidence should also begin from within. Seniors can boost their sense of security by pursuing balance-building exercises like yoga and Tai-Chi to. As noted by Dr. Mercola, the key to staying on your feet is twofold: having stronger muscles and building your balance.
Complementing yoga practice with strength and other exercises
If you are a senior, diet and weight-bearing exercise will also help boost your bone strength and avoid injuries and falls while you are practicing yoga and other sports. It is never too late to start exercising or performing weight-bearing exercise. One exercise that is simple and can be performed using a chair for support are lunges. These strengthen the leg and hip muscles, relying on the body’s own weight rather than external weights. A physiotherapist and personal trainer can also work with you if you wish to add light weights to your workout routine.
Yoga has been found in countless studies to lower stress hormone levels, boost vitality, and improve one’s mood. It is also an excellent way to increase strength and flexibility for people of all ages. To make the most of yoga as a senior, consider chair yoga if you need extra stability, and support your yoga practice with other types of exercise that increase strength and flexibility.