Senior Living Health Tips: Yoga for Seniors

Yoga has increased in popularity over the past few decades, especially among seniors. In fact, there are 36 million people who say they practice yoga in the US. Why is it so popular? Yoga provides tremendous physical and mental benefits, especially for seniors.

Watch a few yoga poses and it’s clear why yoga helps to build physical strength and improve balance. But, beneath the surface, yoga helps build up your brain, too!

A University of Illinois study showed that seniors who participated in an eight week yoga program improved their speed on tests of memory recall, task-switching, and mental flexibility. They also out-performed a group doing regular exercises only.

Other studies, including one by Harvard researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital, found that participants in a meditation and yoga program showed increased density of gray matter in the hippocampus after just eight weeks. This is the area of the brain associated with sharper memory and learning skills, and more dense gray matter means better health.

Best of all, the mental and physical benefits of yoga can be adapted for all body types. You don’t have to be able to twist yourself up like a pretzel to do yoga! For seniors who may be challenged to sit on a yoga mat, yoga can be done in a chair, with all of the same benefits.

Benefits of Yoga for Every Body

  • Physical strength – Yoga postures help build physical strength.
  • Improved bone density – Weight bearing postures – even those done in a chair – help slow bone thinning, especially in women.
  • Mental strength and clarity – the focus required to hold yoga postures builds mental strength and improves clarity.
  • Improved balance – Yoga helps improve balance by building strength and practicing body awareness. For seniors, this is especially important; falls are the leading cause of injuries to seniors every year.
  • Improved flexibility – Not only can you improve flexibility in your joints, muscles, and connective tissues, you can even regain lost flexibility. A more flexible body is less prone to injury.
  • Relaxation and stress reduction – Relaxation is a skill that can be learned, and it’s about much more than feeling better. Relaxation practices with deep breathing help to reduce blood pressure, improve mental performance, and lessen or prevent stress related illnesses.

Please be sure to consult your physician before starting a new exercise program, and be sure to let yoga instructors know about injuries and illnesses so that they can tailor a practice just for you! Learn more about our fitness programs.


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