There are countless benefits to staying active as you age. Regular physical activity can reduce the risk of falling, help to maintain healthy bones and muscles, and lower your risk of developing certain diseases. But, it’s not always easy for seniors to take part in intense physical activity that could end up doing more harm than good.
Yoga is the bridge that allows people of all ages to stay active while enjoying a variety of additional enriching effects.
For seniors who want to lead a healthy lifestyle, yoga is a great way to improve mental and physical wellness. Whether you’re getting older and looking for a proactive way to spend your time, or you care for a senior and want to know more about the positive impact yoga can have on them, let’s cover some of the most notable effects yoga can have on a senior’s life.
The Physical Health Benefits
Yoga has been practiced for centuries for a reason – it is a wonderful way for people to manage their health and well-being. Not every senior can run a marathon or lift weights in the gym. But, almost everyone can stretch and maneuver their bodies into specific yoga positions. Even people who deal with chronic pain can usually take part in yoga without exacerbating their condition. In fact, it can help to make the pain more manageable, and that’s just the start. Some of the most important physical benefits of yoga include
- Increased flexibility
- Better circulatory health
- Improved cardiovascular health
- Better balance and coordination
- Boosted energy
- Greater bone and muscle strength
It’s not uncommon for seniors to face health challenges as they age. Problems like diabetes, high blood pressure, and even varicose veins become more of a threat – largely due to sedentary lifestyles and added stress. Yoga can help to combat those causes by keeping the body active and improving relaxation, all at once.
A Way to Manage Mental Wellness
Depression and anxiety are common mental health conditions in older adults. There are different underlying causes of those issues, from financial strain to the fear of getting older. On top of the risk of developing mental health conditions, seniors can be prone to things like reduced concentration, less focus, and even memory loss. In 2020, nearly 6 million Americans over the age of 65 had Alzheimer’s disease. Unfortunately, that number is expected to increase over the next several years as the baby boomer generation continues to get older. Some of the signs of Alzheimer’s and dementia are:
- Memory loss
- Inability to focus
- Difficulty communicating
If you or someone you know is experiencing any of those symptoms, it’s important to reach out to a healthcare provider right away. Those illnesses need to be treated by a medical professional, and a long-term strategy needs to be put in place.
But, there’s no reason yoga can’t be a part of that strategy.
Whether it’s used for maintaining good mental health or fighting back against the effects of memory loss, yoga promotes mental clarity. It reduces stress and anxiety, centers attention, and can help to improve concentration. While it may not be able to prevent or stop conditions like dementia or Alzheimer’s, it may be able to slow the effects.
Yoga is Communal
There’s no question that one of the biggest issues facing seniors today is social isolation. Research from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicines (NASEM) shows that over one-third of adults over the age of 45 feel lonely, while one-fourth of adults over 65 are socially isolated.
Social isolation can lead to a myriad of physical and mental health problems. It increases the risk of depression, disease, and can even negatively impact mortality.
Yoga can be done alone every day. For some, it’s a way to meditate and feel more in tune with the mind and body. But, yoga can also be very communal. For seniors, taking a yoga class at a local gym, rec center, or senior center can offer a wonderful way to connect with other like-minded individuals who are taking their health seriously. Even taking yoga classes online can help you to feel more connected with other people and reduce the effects of social isolation.
If you’re a caregiver of a senior, consider offering to do yoga with them. It might take a while for both of you to get comfortable, especially if you’ve never tried it before. But, you’ll quickly find it’s something you look forward to sharing.
It’s hard to convey all of the enriching effects of yoga for seniors in one article. Yoga is something that should be experienced to truly understand the benefits. Whether you’re trying to stay healthy as you age or you know a senior who could benefit from these effects, the best part about yoga is that it’s never too late to get started!