Yoga classes are one of the many activities available to Miami Jewish Health residents, and for good reason. Despite any feats of extreme flexibility you may have seen from experienced yoga masters, yoga can be enjoyed by people of any age or skill level. But for older adults in particular, maintaining a consistent yoga routine has a myriad of wellness benefits.
Get stronger without lifting weights
Yoga is not only about stretching muscles, it’s also about making them stronger. Many of the standing poses work the legs and hips, while floor poses can help you build upper-body strength. When using proper form, nearly all yoga poses strengthen your core. The low-impact strength building that yoga offers is truly beneficial for maintaining muscle mass and endurance as you age.
During your first class, you may be surprised by the challenge! But don’t worry – if you have arthritis, limited mobility, or other health issues, there are adjustments for almost every yoga pose to accommodate your physical needs while still enjoying the benefits.
Maintain your mobility
Yoga provides an excellent workout for strengthening your stabilizer muscles. With regular practice, you’ll see improved balance and better stability as you move throughout the day – which can greatly reduce your risk for falling.
If you suffer from joint pain or stiffness, you may notice a reduction in these symptoms thanks to the stretching movements in yoga. In fact, one study found that yoga provided therapeutic benefits to older adults with osteoarthritis. By reducing your movement pain, you’ll be able to keep doing the activities you enjoy as you age.
Improve heart health
High blood pressure and other heart-related conditions are common concerns for seniors. By practicing yoga regularly, older adults can reduce their risk of heart disease and improve overall heart health. Studies show that yoga can reduce oxidative stress in seniors with stage 1 hypertension. Oxidative stress is one of the underlying causes of high blood pressure and is a strong risk factor for cardiac events in older adults. Yoga has also been linked to lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
The meditation and controlled breathing exercises in yoga promote relaxation – not just during the class, but also in everyday life. Research shows that yoga reduces stress hormones like cortisol and stimulates your body to release endorphins and serotonin, which are stress-relieving brain chemicals that improve your mood. In a National Institutes of Health survey, more than 85 percent of people who engaged in yoga said they experienced reduced stress as a result. Similarly, a study of older adults with insomnia published in Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine found that those who participated in yoga classes twice a week reported significant improvements in the duration and quality of their sleep after three months.
For many older adults, social isolation can be a significant challenge. However, an activity like yoga can provide opportunities for seniors to socialize and build connections with their peers. Whether through attending group yoga classes or practicing with a partner, yoga can be an excellent way to stay engaged and connected with others.