senior woman practicing yoga

Staying fit can be difficult for seniors, especially those who have health problems that impede them from moving comfortably. Regular exercise classes and routines can sometimes be stressful and may aggravate current health conditions. To avoid these problems, seniors who want gentle but effective exercise may want to consider yoga. Yoga offers a way for seniors to stay fit while offering a handful of other physical and emotional benefits. These are a few of the many benefits of a regular yoga practice:

Improve bone health

Yoga helps increase bone density and strength. According to Dr. Loren Fishman, who was quoted in a recent New York Times article, “Yoga puts more pressure on bones than gravity does. By opposing one group of muscles against another, it stimulates osteocytes, the bone-making cells.” Fishman added that with as little as 12 minutes of yoga each day, seniors can increase bone density and reduce their risk for osteoporosis.

Minimize hypertension

Various studies have shown that yoga helps to reduce stress and physical tension, which are main causes of hypertension. The steady breathing and mindful movements of yoga routines help the heart to slow down and the muscles to relax, which in turn helps reduce activity in the nervous system. A study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania showed that hypertensive adults who began practicing yoga on a regular basis showed a significant reduction in blood pressure both among those who were taking medication and those who were not.

Protect joints

A regular yoga practice can help reduce joint pain and improve flexibility. Though you may need to modify certain positions to accommodate specific joint problems, like osteoarthritis, the gentle movements of yoga are shown to improve joint stiffness. Though one study showed that some arthritis sufferers did not reduce their overall pain through regular yoga, these patients found that yoga helped them to better manage their pain and have more energy throughout the day.

Increase mindfulness

Yoga combines physical movement with regulated breathing and meditation. The controlled and gentle movements are ideal for reducing stress and focusing the mind. Yoga is shown to help participants to relax and increase mindfulness. Yoga encourages participants to be aware of pain and to take each exercise at their own pace. This body consciousness helps seniors to improve their mental health and to better understand their bodies.

Yoga can help promote both mental and physical health, especially for seniors. Many gyms offer yoga classes that work for all age groups, and some even offer classes specifically for seniors. If getting to the gym is a struggle, you can also find online yoga classes that vary in length and difficulty. You should consult with your doctor if you have any doubts about how yoga may affect your current conditions. Though yoga is not a substitute for doctor-prescribed medications and treatments, it can at times help improve certain medical conditions.