As we grow older, our bodies become more susceptible to illnesses and ailments that are linked with aging, which tends to make us lead more sedentary lives. As we move less, we become even more vulnerable to age-related ailments, resulting in a vicious cycle that can be hard to break.
In light of our nation’s growing senior population and the myriad of health problems associated with the aging process, researchers are becoming more interested in how many health problems can be treated – or even eradicated. Many experts agree that yoga is an exceptional way to combat age-related ailments and concerns that plague the majority of seniors. If you haven’t tried it yet, you definitely should.
Is Yoga Appropriate for Seniors?
Absolutely. In most cases, seniors have no problem doing yoga. In fact, your golden years are the ideal time to start yoga. Why? Now that you’re retired, you have the time to devote to a regular exercise program. It’s never too late to pick up healthy habits that promote longevity. If you’ve settled into a lazy lifestyle, now is the time to consider what impact a sedentary existence has on your health – and your future.
Precautions Before You Begin
Although the vast majority of seniors can do yoga with no problems, it’s always a good idea to speak with your doctor first. This is especially important if you suffer from any chronic conditions, are significantly overweight, or have led a very inactive lifestyle. Seniors with spinal disk problems should avoid certain poses; your instructor will tell you when to be careful.
Health Benefits of Yoga
According to the 7th Annual IDEA Fitness Programs Report, yoga has experienced the most growth of any fitness program over the past seven years. Senior yoga classes are popping up everywhere – senior centers, assisted living facilities, health clubs, and even church basements. What makes yoga for seniors so popular? Here are just a few benefits yoga participants experience:
- Reduction of chronic pain. Patients who took part in a Harbor-UCLA Medical Center study reported they needed fewer pain medications after four weeks of yoga.
- Decreased risk of heart disease. After three months of regular yoga, participants of a study performed in India experienced a decrease in blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, and triglycerides.
- Weight loss. Research shows that practicing yoga regularly for at least 30 minutes a week may help offset the middle-age weight gain.
- Better breathing. Seventy percent of bronchial asthmatics experienced improved breathing.
- Improved flexibility, muscle tone, and strength. According to the John Hopkins Arthritis Center, seniors who experience a limited range of motion may experience a higher benefit from yoga than anyone else.
If you have not tried yoga yet, put it at the top of your to-do list. Check your local senior center, health club, or retirement community to find a senior yoga class. If none are available in your area, a beginner’s class will do.