4 Ways Yoga Increases Longevity
Physical and Mental Benefits of Yoga for Seniors
Fitness and wellness are important goals that help support senior quality of life and health. No matter your age, physical activity provides countless benefits and can improve longevity.
Seniors, however, benefit the most from low-impact exercises that are enjoyable. These types of workouts avoid injury and are likely to become a part of someone’s life for the long run. Yoga is such an activity, and it has additional benefits that make it an ideal component of senior living.
Yoga improves flexibility
Older adults often suffer from reduced mobility. Joint pain and other conditions can make moving difficult. Although these afflictions can cause a senior to avoid working out, most find that discomfort and pain reduces with the introduction of low-impact movement. Stretching helps muscles and eases tension, while yoga combines the benefits of working out and stretching for whole-body wellness.
Flexibility is defined as the ability to move muscles and joints through their normal range. Yoga helps maximize flexibility, which helps support other activities. If a senior experiences leg pain after walking, they may find relief in relaxing yoga poses that focus on legs stretches. Posture and spine alignment are additional components of yoga practice that can result in better balance.
Yoga increases mindfulness
Beyond physical health, yoga also provides a form of meditative relief. Those who practice yoga are in tune with themselves, often knowing when to stop exercise and when other components of their lives need support. This mindfulness helps keep seniors active and centered. There is an explicit meditative quality of yoga. Deliberate breaths accompany slow poses and quiet reflection on your day and mitigate external stresses and problems you may be experiencing. Yoga provides a moment of peace. For busy workers, yoga can help slow down a busy life. For those who are retired, yoga can provide instants of clarity and focus.
Yoga also tends to fill practitioners with a positive energy that spills over into the rest of their lives. This typically includes eating better, spending less time on unproductive, time-wasting activities and more time helping and comforting themselves. This positive energy component of yoga also spills over into healthy social lives.
Yoga encourages socialization
Although yoga can be a solitary activity, older adults often enjoy yoga in the company of others in a group class. For seniors who are beginners, a yogi or teacher is essential to their practice. A yogi will direct participants through proper moves and ensure that no one gets injured.
Studies have shown that yoga practice increases social wellness. Seniors thrive in social groups where they can extend their enjoyment to impromptu gatherings, or meetings for lunch or coffee.
Yoga can be beneficial to caregivers, too
The benefits of yoga can extend to a senior’s caregiver as well. Caregivers - family members who have taken on the role of assisting and supporting a senior - are often overburdened by their role. They often neglect their physical health, opting instead to focus on the needs of the person needing care. Yoga can fill in several gaps in a caregiver’s life. Yoga provides a physical outlet and mental clarity that can help manage stress. More importantly, yoga’s status as a practice rather than an exercise routine infuses positivity into lives.
While caregivers can often become mired in despair, those who practice yoga are more likely to focus time on themselves and find balanced optimism.
Yoga is an all-around beneficial activity for seniors. It provides an outlet for mild exercise and a sanctuary in times of stress. Its practice can also benefit others around a senior, such as caregivers and those with whom a senior socializes.
Yoga Wake Up offers many wakeups that are restorative and therapeutic, at varying skill levels. We always recommend that if you have an injury or are working with any joint pain that you consult your physician before practicing and we also encourage you to reach out directly if you ever have questions about which wakeups are beginner friendly! When in doubt, we offer an entire category of meditations that are great for any and all physical skill level.
About our Contributor
Harry Cline is creator of NewCaregiver.org and author of the upcoming book, The A-Z Home Care Handbook: Health Management How-Tos for Senior Caregivers. As a retired nursing home administrator, father of three, and caregiver to his 90-year-old uncle, Harry knows how challenging and rewarding caregiving can be. He also understands that caregiving is often overwhelming for those just starting out. He created his website and is writing his new book to offer new caregivers everywhere help and support.