27 Oct The Benefits of Yoga for Seniors
Yoga isn’t an age-restricted activity. Regardless of age, anyone can participate in it. Yoga has been around for thousands of years, during which it’s become recognized as one of the world’s most popular and widely accepted physical activities. For seniors, though, yoga is particularly beneficial for the following reasons.
Seniors who regularly participate in yoga can benefit from stronger bones. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately one in four senior women and one in 20 senior men suffer from osteoporosis. Not to be confused with osteoarthritis, osteoporosis is a degenerative bone disease that’s characterized by the gradual loss of bone density. With the loss of bone density comes weaker bones, thus increasing the risk of fracture.
Fortunately, yoga can promote stronger bones that are less susceptible to fracture. It’s a low-impact exercise that uses a senior’s own body weight to stimulate the production of new bone tissue.
Relieve Chronic Pain
In addition to promoting stronger bones, yoga may offer relief of chronic pain. Several studies cited by Harvard University found that people who engage in regular yoga sessions experience less chronic pain than their counterparts. Whether it’s from arthritis, an injury or an underlying disease, chronic pain is common among seniors. By performing yoga, seniors may find relief from chronic pain.
How does yoga relieve chronic pain exactly? That’s a question medical experts are still trying to answer. One theory is that yoga — like other aerobic exercises — promotes the release of hormones like oxytocin. As these hormones are released, they relieve pain. Regardless, many seniors report that yoga does, in fact, help to relieve chronic pain.
Yoga offers an opportunity for seniors to socialize. While seniors can perform it alone, many prefer to do it in groups. Participating in group-based yoga sessions allows seniors to socialize. They can talk and converse while engaging in a fun and rewarding physical activity.
Socialization is important for seniors. Research has shown that seniors who socialize are less likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. The problem is that many seniors remain isolated. Yoga can curb isolation by allowing seniors to socialize.
Seniors can improve their balance by participating in yoga. Balance disorders are common among seniors. Around age 50, balance declines in most men and women, thus paving the way for balance disorders that may contribute to fall-related injuries.
The good news is that yoga can improve balance in seniors. While there are different types of yoga, most of them involve the use of postures. Seniors must use the appropriate posture by bending their bodies. These postures, in turn, promote better balance. By participating in yoga, seniors can improve their balance so that they are less likely to suffer from fall-related injuries.
A benefit of yoga that’s often overlooked is its ability to lower stress levels. Everyone experiences stress, and seniors are no exception. Seniors, in fact, often have a more difficult time managing stress than their younger counterparts. Yoga, however, can lower stress levels in seniors.
Stress occurs when certain hormones, such as cortisol, are released. Yoga works to increase levels of good hormones while simultaneously lowering levels of cortisol and other stress-related hormones. The end result is increased relaxation and less stress, which is something from which all seniors can benefit.
Improved Heart Health
Seniors can benefit from improved heart health by making yoga a part of their weekly exercise regimen. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. According to the CDC, it causes over 655,000 deaths in the United States each year.
Yoga has been shown to improve heart health and lower the risk of heart disease. As an aerobic activity, it stimulates seniors’ heart rate. The heart is a muscle, and like all muscles, it needs exercising to stay healthy.
Promotes a Healthy Weight
Seniors will have an easier time maintaining a healthy weight by participating in yoga. Seniors will burn calories when performing yoga. At the same time, they’ll strengthen their bones and muscles.
It’s often difficult for seniors to lose weight since many of them struggle to perform intense exercises. Yoga is a low-impact exercise, though, that’s easy to perform. By performing yoga regularly, seniors can maintain a healthy weight that makes them less susceptible to chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension.
Many seniors are surprised to learn that yoga can lead to better and more restful sleep. According to one study, over half of people who perform yoga regularly say that it helps them sleep. This is likely due to its ability to lower stress levels. With less stress, seniors can fall alseep and stay asleep more easily at night.
As you can see, yoga is beneficial for seniors in several ways. It promotes stronger bones, relieves chronic pain, offers socialization opportunities and more.