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Yoga for seniors

The benefits of staying fit as you age are numerous. According to the National Institute on Aging, regular exercise can help minimize the effects of aging and strengthen physical and mental health. One type of exercise proven to be beneficial for seniors is yoga. Any type of gentle stretching can help maintain overall health and physical acumen, but yoga poses can be especially beneficial when incorporated into your daily life.

Stretching your way to better health
Yoga is one of the best ways to remain active as you age. It can increase muscle strength and improve your flexibility, among other benefits. Yoga has also been shown to be good for your heart. In fact, a 2007 study published in the Journal of Clinical Hypertension showed patients age 35 to 65 who practiced yoga for 11 weeks lowered their systolic blood pressure 33 points. A different study from 1999 found different types of exercise, including yoga, can help increase balance in older adults. With all these benefits, it’s no wonder yoga has been touted by health professionals as a great way for seniors to stay in shape and strengthen their bodies.

The beauty of yoga is that it is non competitive. During a yoga class, students and practitioners do poses at their own pace. If you’re not comfortable with something, you can take a rest without feeling pressured.

Weight loss
The findings from a 2012 study published in the International Journal of Yoga Therapy indicate a weight-loss program based around yoga is beneficial for psychological well-being and weight loss. Researchers also cited a “mindfulness” component, suggesting the importance of conscientiousness in diet and fitness on a person’s quality of life.

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, yoga is a good way to assist arthritis patients with relief from symptoms of pain and discomfort. Physical activity is a crucial part of the treatment guidelines for osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis set forth by the American College of Rheumatology, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. Arthritis pain can be amplified by remaining still; doing simple yoga poses and stretches can be an easy way to alleviate or minimize that pain.

Some easy yoga poses for seniors
The kind of nonimpact stretching done in yoga is something easy and fun to do in groups or alone. The real benefit comes from the actual poses themselves. Here are a couple poses that will help stretch your muscles and soothe your joints.

  • Cobbler’s Pose – This yoga pose involves sitting with your legs spread out and spine straight. Bend your knees to bring your feet together – so your legs look like a butterfly’s wings. Gently push your thighs closer to the floor and hold.
  • Child’s pose – While sitting on your feet, allow your body to bend forward and rest your forearms on the mat. Extend your arms and allow your forehead to rest on the mat as well, making sure you’re comfortable.

As always, consult your doctor before starting any exercise routine.