The Benefits of Yoga for Seniors
Getting older can be a daunting prospect for many, as you might find that you are not as strong as you once were and have become more vulnerable to diseases as you age. In fact, the most common health concerns for seniors listed by Everyday Health include arthritis, osteoporosis, dementia, and heart disease. And because humans are now living longer than ever before, more and more Americans will be navigating through the challenges of aging over the next decade.
A long-form feature by Maryville University details that the senior population grew from 35 million to nearly 50 million between 2000 and 2016 — a trend that is only going to make health and wellness for seniors ever more important. Already, it has led to a rise in the demand for professionals who can help treat and manage age-related chronic conditions.
But of course, that doesn’t mean that seniors can’t take a more proactive approach when it comes to their personal health and wellness.
The perfect habit that seniors can pick up is to practice yoga regularly. You can practice yoga regardless of age, and it’s especially advantageous for seniors who want to improve their overall health. Here’s are some benefits in store for seniors looking to try out yoga:
1. Improved fitness and mobility
There are different styles of yoga that can suit all capabilities and needs. For seniors, gentler types like Yin, Hatha, or Chair Yoga can bring about significant improvements in strength and mobility. These will help them stay active and enjoy their golden years, instead of being stuck indoors. Yoga can also aid in improving awareness and balance, which are crucial for preventing falls — a very common accident among older adults.
2. Stronger muscles and bones
Declining bone health is a major concern for the elderly. Fortunately, Columbia University physiatrist Dr. Loren Fishman found that yoga can be an effective measure against osteoporosis. In a study focusing on 227 patients, he found that a 12-minute a day yoga practice that included simple poses like triangle, warrior II, and side angle could increase bone density in the spine and hips.
3. Boost in heart health
Heart disease is still the leading cause of death in the U.S., which can be scary for older adults. In this regard, flowing through different yoga poses can raise the heart rate and boost cardiovascular health. For seniors, even a slower pace can be an effective form of exercise, provided that there is an emphasis on proper breathing techniques. This is a great way to improve blood flow and reduce inflammation.
4. A sharpened mind
The meditative aspect of yoga not only gives the brain some much-needed relief, it also improves cognitive function. A study in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease indicates that it is effective in improving memory skills and avoiding memory loss in the future. This is great news considering that there are many different forms of dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s Disease, which affects 5.7 million Americans.
5. Reduces anxiety and loneliness
Loneliness among older adults is a very real and pressing concern. Though yoga can’t heal loneliness per se, it can help provide mental clarity. Of course, medical intervention is still the best solution, but Synergy Yoga has already discussed that a regular practice can be used as a tool for healing and boosting mental health. Add the endorphin high that yogis experience after a session, and it can result in yoga becoming very therapeutic. This can obviously prove life changing for seniors, as well as providing them social benefits too.
Article specially written for synergyyoga.org
By: Karina Kaye