As we get older, some exercises can be more detrimental than beneficial to our bodies even if you are in peak physical condition. As we age dehydration occurs more rapidly, muscle formation changes, joints become more fragile and overall we are not as agile and flexible as we were is our 20’s, 30’s and 40’s. In the event we do injure ourselves, healing generally takes a longer period of time. With these considerations it is important to look for a method of exercise to help support the body and mind as we age. This is where yoga comes into the picture. Yoga is not one of those exercises that should be avoided when you are over 50. In fact more and more research is supporting the benefits of yoga for the over 50’s.
Why is yoga so good for the over 50’s?
Yoga can provide physical and mental benefits, in fact the benefits of yoga are endless. One of the main reasons yoga is so good is that it is customisable. This makes it suitable for people of all ages, fitness levels and abilities. Yoga may assist in improving circulation, flexibility, respiration, energy and strength.
In addition yoga is helpful in relieving stress. With regular practice yoga can help you move through difficult times in life through creating a sense of calm, presence and mindfulness even if you are experiencing pain and hardship.
Yoga also teaches breath awareness known as pranayama and with the use of a variety of breathing techniques is one of the aspects that make yoga so effective.
Lets go into some of the benefits of yoga for the over 50’s.
Low impact exercise
Yoga is a low impact workout. It doesn’t put any undue stress or pressure on joints and bones. It creates resistance, stretches, relaxes the muscles and provides some cardio training. Experts recommend low impact training for the over 50’s because it puts less strain on joints and bones.
Improves flexibility and range of motion
The nature of yoga moves naturally improves your flexibility and range of motion in the joints in a gentle and progressive manner. This is important as we get older, because our flexibility naturally declines as we age, this may in turn start to impact on range of motion. If you are just starting out be patient and don’t get frustrated if it takes time before you see any improvements. If you practice yoga a few times a week you will start to see an improvement
Supports brain/mental health
Yoga is very beneficial in reducing stress and supporting mental health. The practice of yoga naturally helps you emotionally and mentally because the breathing and focus that takes place during the session. Breath work helps to breathe away anxiety. Yoga improves posture and how he body feels. People have experienced reduced stress and anxiety melting away after including yoga in their lifestyle.
On a technical note, yoga is thought to release a chemical called Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the thalamus. This chemical can help to suppress the neural activity that causes anxiety. Yoga helps people learn to relax and deal with stress in a less reactive way. This occurs because the levels of cortisol (stress hormone) decrease, creating calm in the individual. Another way that yoga helps to improve mental health is through the physical aspect which involves stretching. Stretching is relaxing and creates benefits such as increased blood flow. It releases the connective tissue which means we move better. When we move better we feel better. Feeling good improves mental health.
Supports cardiovascular health
Yoga supports cardiovascular health by improving lung capacity, respiratory function and heart rate. It also boosts blood circulation, builds muscle, and decreases inflammation. A reduction in stress is another important aspect that can assist in cardiovascular health. Research has indicated that yoga is linked to the lowering of cardiovascular disease risk factors and it was found that there was very little difference between yoga and other forms of exercise when it comes to decreasing the risk factors.
Protects against joint and back pain
Yoga protects against joint and back pain through proper body alignment and good posture. This helps maintain the spines natural curvature. Yoga helps to promote the release of synovial fluid that helps to lubricate the joints in the body. It helps to strengthen the muscles around the joints, this helps to keep us mobile as we age.
Pelvic and core strength
Yoga helps to stretch and strengthen the muscles on both sides of the body at the same time. Regular practice will bring the head, shoulders and pelvis in correct alignment. It improves posture and balance.
Looking for local yoga classes.
When looking for yoga classes that are specifically tailored for the over 50’s may seem few and far between. It has been said that many over 50’s don’t like being separated within the yoga classes and will often not attend these specific classes. In the event you do not have any specific classes, beginners classes are a great place to start. If you have any injuries or health concerns it is always a good idea to let the instructor know and they will be able to instruct you with any modifications that are specific to you. It is always important to remember that everyone is different and their bodies will have different needs and capabilities. Work at the pace you body is comfortable at.
In conclusion, yoga is a great exercise for the over 50’s. It has many benefits, but due to the ease that a yoga session can be modified makes it a practical choice for the over 50’s. Yoga provides many benefits for the over 50’s as it is a form of low impact exercise that will support the joints and bones as we get older. Yoga will assist in strengthening the muscles and joints. It will promote flexibility, balance, strength and mental and emotional well being. It has been found through research to help reduce a number of factors that can lead to cardiovascular disease. The benefits of yoga to the over 50’s is many and it can be said that yoga for the over 50’s is a wonderful way to promote, maintain and support your physical and mental health through the twilight years.
Thank you for taking the time to read this article, I hope you found it useful. If you have any questions or comments please be sure to leave them below.
This article was created for information purposes only and is not designed to be used as or replace medical advice. Before commencing any new exercise regime, please consult with a qualified health professional.