Regular exercise is the key to avoiding health problems that can make you feel much older. Yoga, a spiritual discipline that not only increases flexibility but also offers mental health benefits, is an excellent form of exercise no matter what your age.
Health Benefits of Yoga
When you practice yoga regularly, you may notice these benefits:
- Less Joint and Arthritis Pain. Yoga poses strengthen your muscles and joints and can improve range of motion. When the joints and the muscles that support them are stronger and more flexible, pain tends to decrease.
- Lower Blood Pressure and Cholesterol. High blood pressure and cholesterol levels increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. Practicing yoga regularly will help keep your levels in the healthy range.
- Better Weight Control. Weight gain is one of the more frustrating aspects of aging. Even if you were slim and svelte the first half of your life, weight can be harder to control as you age. Performing yoga is a simple way to lose weight or maintain your current weight.
- Lower Type 2 Diabetes Risk. When your weight increases, your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes increases. Yoga can help you avoid the disease or lower your blood sugar levels if you already have Type 2 diabetes. In a study published in the April 2015 edition of the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research, researchers reported that study participants who had Type 2 diabetes experienced a significant drop in blood glucose levels after taking part in yoga classes for three months. Yoga may also be helpful in controlling blood sugar levels if you have Type 1 diabetes.
- Improved Mood. Meditation and deep breathing are just as important as the poses you execute when you practice yoga. If fact, you may feel calmer and less anxious after a yoga class. Yoga may also help you feel sharper mentally.
- Reduced Risk of Osteoporosis. Weight-bearing yoga poses strengthen your bones and help you avoid debilitating osteoporosis. Patients who participated in a study published in the April 2016 issue of Topics in Geriatric Rehabilitation experienced improved bone mineral density in their spines, hips and femurs after participating in a yoga program.
- Better Sleep. Are you wide awake at 3 a.m., even though you desperately want to sleep? Sleep quality and duration often decline as you grow older. Performing yoga regularly may help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
- Improved Balance. Falls can be particularly dangerous once you enter your senior years. If you're fairly sedentary, your balance may be affected, making broken hips and other injuries more likely. Yoga improves your balance and helps you avoid falls.
- Decreased Aches and Pains. Chronic pain doesn't just make you uncomfortable, but can also increase fatigue. Practicing yoga can be very helpful in decreasing pain and boosting your energy level.
Is Yoga Really a Good Idea if I Have Joint or Muscle Pain?
If you're already in pain, you might wonder if it's a good idea to contort your body into complicated yoga poses. Yoga uses controlled movements, which are less likely to stress joints and muscles. Although magazines and websites like to show people performing complex postures, those people first mastered simple, gentle poses before moving on to the more difficult postures.
Depending on your physical condition when you begin yoga, you may have to make a few adjustments when you perform poses. In the beginning, you may only be able to hold poses for a few seconds. As you grow stronger, you'll probably be able to extend that time. Props can also be used to help make poses easier and safer for your joints and muscles.
If you have arthritis, balance issues or other health problems, discuss your issues with your yoga instructor before class begins. He or she will be glad to take the time to show you modifications that can help you get the most out of the class and can offer suggestions that will help you become adept at performing poses.
Would you like to improve your health and flexibility with yoga? Call us today to learn about the classes we offer.
Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research: Effects of Yoga on Blood Glucose Levels in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes, 4/15
American Senior Fitness Association: Yoga for the 50+
AARP: 3 Reasons to Practice Yoga in Your 50s, 11/16
The Washington Post: Yoga for Seniors Can Help with Balance, Agility and Strength. But Injuries Do Happen, 8/18/14
Topics in Geriatric Rehabilitation: Twelve-Minute Daily Yoga Regimen Reverses Osteoporotic Bone Loss, 4/16