Common Health Issues in Seniors and How Yoga Can Help
The older community, typically those in the 65-and-up crowd, can benefit greatly from physical activity.
Unfortunately, a plethora of issues, from decreased mobility to a lack of transportation, leaves many seniors stuck at home and stagnant in their daily lives. However, exercise is absolutely essential to overall our physical health, and yoga is a low-impact and gentle way to remain fit regardless of age.
Here are a few health concerns and reasons why yoga is a smart choice for seniors wishing to take control of their health and wellness.
Before attempting any new physical exercise regimens, it’s important to talk to your doctor to ensure you’re healthy enough to perform the activities that it entails.
You can stay motivated once you get started by creating a dedicated space in your home or making yoga a social experience, which comes with the added benefit of improving your overall quality of life.
If your house is cluttered, consider clearing out a spare bedroom. If you need a space for all your stuff, consider renting a self-storage unit, but make sure you have room in your budget for the added expense. For example, a unit in Richmond, Virginia, runs around $81.47 per month. Don’t forget to pick up a yoga mat (Target has mats starting at $10.99) before you get started.
Joint Health and Flexibility
With age, your joints are not able to continually repair themselves like they did when you were young. This can leave you crackling and popping in pain every time you bend your knees or move your back.
Health24.com explains that people with knee pain tend to suffer from limited physical function. Yoga can improve joint health by increasing flexibility.
Chopra notes that flexibility exercises are especially beneficial for people who are stiff or achy. In fact, yoga has been found to effectively manage osteoarthritis in older women.
Seniors at a higher risk of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), Ménière’s disease, and other conditions that can leave you unsteady on your feet.
Maintaining your balance means strengthening your muscles and keeping your mind and body in tip-top shape.
If you find it difficult to stand still in a single position, aquatic yoga can help you exercise without losing your balance. According to Aqua for Balance, water yoga can improve your static balance, increase cardiovascular function, and reduce fatigue and pain from arthritis and fibromyalgia.
Range of Motion
Old injuries, swollen joints, rheumatoid arthritis, and other physical conditions can lead to limited motion. Unfortunately, range-of-motion limitations not only affect your ability to maneuver effectively, but they can also slow your reaction time in case of an emergency.
Yoga can help improve these issues and is known to reduce inflammation in the joints and improve bone strength. If you aren’t comfortable doing yoga in the water or at home by yourself, consider taking a class and requesting to use a chair, which is one way MindValley.com suggests that seniors can safely perform yoga if they have stability concerns.
Anxiety and Stress
Up to 14 percent of the older population suffers from an anxiety disorder.
This could be anything from panic attacks and phobias to OCD and post-traumatic stress disorder. Unfortunately, anxiety can have a negative impact on your overall health and can make it more difficult to grocery shop, do housework, and other things that are necessary to live independently.
Harvard University reports that, among the many health benefits of yoga, this ancient practice can help you learn how to regulate your stress response. Yoga forces you to slow down and pay attention to your environment, and that includes the stressors that surround you. Once you are aware of them, you can learn how to overcome them.
Yoga has been around for thousands of years and is widely considered safe for people of all ages and physical abilities. Talk to your doctor. He or she can help you figure out your limitations and may be able to recommend a senior-oriented yoga class near you.
Harry Cline is creator of NewCaregiver.org and author of the upcoming book, The A-Z Home Care Handbook: Health Management How-Tos for Senior Caregivers. As a retired nursing home administrator, father of three, and caregiver to his ninety-year-old uncle, Harry knows how challenging and rewarding caregiving can be. He also understands that caregiving is often overwhelming for those just starting out. He created his website and is writing his new book to offer new caregivers everywhere help and support.
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