Yoga Offers Health and Wellness Benefits to Seniors

Gentle Yoga classes offers many benefits to seniors or those with mobility concerns. “It has been wonderful to watch our seniors build a sense of community, improve their health, improve flexibility and balance, and build strength. Additionally, seniors can experience higher rates of depression and anxiety. If you’re a senior, yoga can be a game changer for your health,” says Alicia Barrett, owner at Tuladhara Yoga.

Safety should be the number one priority in any physical exercise including yoga. Yoga, like any exercise, can come with risks, so being led by a certified experienced instructor is critical. It is also important to be cleared by your doctor to practice yoga.

Benefits of practicing yoga as a senior include:

Yoga improves flexibility and joint health

Flexibility and joint mobility is not about reaching your toes, but about creating a suppleness in the body that will prevent injury and strain over time. When you are flexible, you are less likely to get injured doing basics tasks like bending over to pick something up.

Yoga improves balance and stability

A lack of balance is the number one reason seniors give at Tuladhara Yoga for wanting to try yoga. Certain yoga poses, such as tree pose, are beneficial and can improve balance, which leads to less falls and better focus and stability.

Yoga can improve respiration

Yoga and exercise can improve respiration. Breathing exercises in particular can help improve lung capacity.

Yoga can help reduce depression and anxiety

Yoga classes, especially those geared toward seniors, are calm, relaxing and restorative. Yoga involves focusing on the breath and slow movements, which can help trigger your parasympathetic nervous system, bringing us into the “rest and digest” phase of stress relief.

Going to yoga class is fun and can build a sense of community

Sometimes we forget that as we age, we lose our friends and loved ones and therefore a sense of belonging and community. A yoga class is a great way to make new friends, stay connected, laugh and have fun with others.

Warm-Weather Wellness Tips for Seniors

Warmer weather often awakens a desire to get outside and be active. But seniors who have a higher sensitivity to heat need to use caution when making plans in the sun.

Put on Your Walking Shoes

Walking is an excellent physical activity. And doing so in a park or forest is a great way to connect with nature. Joining a group can also be an easy way to meet new friends. Choose terrain—and supportive shoes—suitable for your activity level and balance.

Take an Exercise Class

Get your endorphins flowing! Yoga, pilates or tai chi can all improve balance and flexibility, decreasing the chance of falling. Water aerobics is good for those with arthritis or chronic pain. Or try low-impact sports such as horseshoes, miniature golf, bocce ball, bean bags, badminton or croquet.

Get Outside and Garden

Gardening can be as calming and relaxing as an hour of meditation. Digging, planting and weeding can improve strength, flexibility and agility. If you don’t have a garden, consider volunteering at a local park.

Lighten Up Your Diet

With fruits and vegetables coming into season, it’s time to enjoy salads, light soups and other lighter fare. Farmers markets provide an opportunity to get outdoors and select healthful foods for dinner.

Stay Hydrated

As we age, our ability to notice thirst may decrease, so keep an eye on your water intake, especially when you’re outdoors in the sun. At home, drink water and herbal tea rather than other beverages.

Watch for Allergies

Summertime can mean allergy season, so pay attention to allergy forecasts. Untreated allergies are uncomfortable and can lead to breathing problems or sinus infections. Your doctor can recommend or prescribe a treatment to help prevent serious respiratory problems.

Check the Side Effects of Your Prescriptions

Some medications increase sun sensitivity. Find out whether you need to take extra precautions. Following other suggestions on this list will help you avoid problems.

Relish the Outdoors

Enjoy the great outdoors with a picnic! Just remember to pick an area with comfortable seating and shade, even if it’s in your own backyard. Bird-watching and photography are two other pastimes to stimulate the mind and body. If you love to shop, flea markets are a fun summertime activity. Just remember to protect yourself with sunglasses, a wide-brimmed hat, sunscreen and bug repellent.

BY KELLY LENIHAN