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Caregiver Training Blog

The Benefits of Yoga for Seniors

Exercise and activity are important for people of all ages, including seniors. Seniors have many options available to them in order to stay fit, including yoga.

Yoga is sometimes looked at as a New Age practice geared toward women in their 20s and 30s. As a senior, you may think that some of the poses are too advanced for your aging body. In some cases, they might be. That should not stop you from trying a beginner class in order to learn more about the poses.

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The benefits of yoga extend beyond improved flexibility. Yoga influences the entire body, which means it can sharpen your mind and even help manage chronic health conditions. Read on to learn how yoga can benefit you.

1.     Relief from chronic pain. Joints and muscles tend to ache as we age. This is due to decades of use. The various stretches and poses associate with yoga, however, can help alleviate your aches and pains. Yoga also helps alleviate stress, which can contribute to pain and inflammation. In one study, participants who engaged in four weeks of yoga required less pain medication. If you have been struggling with orthopedic issues, yoga may help you feel better, eliminating the need for medications or surgery.

2.     Better sleep. Many seniors struggle with insomnia. Yoga has been known to help seniors fall asleep quicker and improve their quality of sleep. In fact, a study comparing yoga to an herbal sleep remedy showed that yoga was more effective. This is likely due to the various relaxation and breathing techniques involved in yoga, as well as the physical demands. Better sleep means a better mood and quality of life.

3.     Decreased blood pressure. High blood pressure can lead to heart disease, which can also cause kidney disease. Stress contributes to high blood pressure, which can be especially harmful to seniors. Yoga offers stress relief, which results in low blood pressure.

The results happen rather quickly. Many students notice lower blood pressure after their first yoga class. As they continue with yoga classes, blood pressure stays low. Yoga is known to reduce blood pressure even more than listening to music and other relaxing activities.

In fact, there is such a strong connection between yoga and heart health that yoga is part of the Dean Ornish Program for Reversing Heart Disease, which is covered by Medicare. This means that Medicare will pay for this program, making yoga accessible to more people.

4.     Less stress. Everyone practices in a calm environment, which is conducive to peacefulness. Stress exacerbates your body’s fight or flight response, which leads to inflammation. Yoga, on the other hand, stops this response. The slow breathing used in yoga also relieves anxiety and stress so you feel more at peace.

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5.     Diabetes management. Those who struggle with type 2 diabetes may be surprised to know that yoga can help manage this common medical condition. Yoga is helpful because it reduces stress, which affects insulin production. Because yoga also massages the internal organs, it can improve cholesterol and glucose levels as well.

If you have struggled with out of control diabetes, ask your yoga instructor for advice. He or she can suggest various poses that can benefit the pancreas.

6.     Better stability and balance. Stability and balance tend to decrease as we age, even though both are extremely important. A lack of either can lead to falls, which can cause serious injury or even death.

The good news is that yoga can help prevent these falls from occurring. Yoga can strengthen muscles to help your body stay stable. If a fall does happen, you will have the strength to quickly recover.

7.     Improved flexibility. Achy and stiff joints and muscles are common among the elderly. If you have watched others engage in yoga and seen the various poses, it should come as no surprise that this exercise can help improve flexibility.

Yoga is gentle but effective. It provides therapeutic benefits as it loosens muscles. It is also useful for toning muscles and preventing injury.

8.     Improved respiration. As we get older, breathing becomes more difficult. Our respiratory system slows down, and we become less tolerant to physical exertion. This lack of oxygen can have negative effects on the entire body.

Breathing is necessary for life, so it is important to keep the respiratory system as healthy as possible. This can be accomplished through yoga. One study showed that women who took a 12-week yoga program showed improvement in respiratory function.

9.     Increased mindfulness. Yoga also helps you mentally, as it encourages mindfulness. You will practice self-awareness as you become more in tune with your thoughts and emotions. As a result, you will become more connected to those around you, including the community and the world as a whole.

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Getting older can be challenging for your mind and body. When done regularly, yoga offers many benefits and makes the aging process much easier. As long as you are living a healthy lifestyle, yoga can help cure what ails you and improve your overall mental and physical state.

About the Author:

Roger Sims serves as the owner for LoCost Medical Supply, LLC. Roger oversees the family owned and operated medical supply company from the Duluth, Georgia headquarters. In 1985, the Sims family began providing medical supplies in a corner drug store named HealthWise Family Pharmacy in the Atlanta suburbs and although they do not operate a pharmacy these days, they continue to place the highest value on trust, customer service, knowledge, and excellence.