When today’s Baby Boomers were kids, many of their parents considered exercise to be golfing, bowling or a day spent outdoors with the kids. Actually, they probably didn’t think about exercise at all. It wasn’t a thing.
Sure, there were some people who enjoyed biking or swimming. And the YMCA has been around encouraging physical family fun for a long time. But in the last 30 or 40 years, everything changed. Exercise went mainstream.
Health clubs have sprung up all over. And they’re not just for the young folks anymore. In fact, doctors and numerous studies agree that for most people exercise is effective – and even encouraged — well into their golden years.
If you’re a senior — or know one – you’re probably aware of the exercise opportunities in your area. Health clubs, the school recreation departments, and senior centers typically offer exercise designed for seniors.
And if you’re in a senior living community, chances are good that you have some sort of exercise right there on site. At Aston Gardens At Pelican Marsh, you’ll find some sort of exercise on their calendar daily. From stretching to resistance to balance, the staff recognizes the importance of seniors staying active and fit — and they provide every opportunity for their residents to do just that.
One exercise that has become very popular with seniors – and for good reason – is yoga. Just ask Florida senior – and “World’s Oldest Yoga Teacher” according to Guinness World Records – Bernice Bates. At 91, she’s been doing yoga for 50 years now and is still going strong.
Yoga is the perfect choice for seniors for many reasons. One is that it’s non-weight-bearing and low-impact, making it easier on the joints. Yes, you’re on your feet (or back or hands) but it’s not a pounding exercise like running or aerobics. In addition to that, it’s great for both the body and the mind.
One important physical element of yoga is improved balance. This is good for anyone, but even more important for seniors who often find that they have a reduced sense of balance as they age. Yoga helps strengthen core muscles, which leads to better balance. Simple exercises like standing on one foot and other yoga poses strengthen other supporting muscles to improve balance as well.
Yoga is also great for flexibility. Gentle stretching increases your range of motion. Why is this a big deal? Because people tend to lose their range of motion as they get older and reduced flexibility can lead to a feeling of stiffness, an inability to do some of the physical activities you used to do effortlessly – and even a greater risk of falls. Keeping those muscles limber will go a long way toward keeping you active and able to care for yourself.
Yoga is a good way to get the benefits of strength training without the weights. If you don’t have any weights – and don’t know how to use them anyway – go for the yoga! The weight of your own body as you move through the various poses, works almost like strength training. And even better, since you aren’t using weights, there’s a lesser chance of injury.
Here’s one you won’t see – or even feel – but yoga has been found to increase your bone health. One study checked the bone density of a group of seniors and then taught half of them how to do yoga. Two years later, they were all rechecked. The control group all lost at least a little of their bone density but the group that had been doing yoga, not only didn’t lose bone density, but they actually gained it. All while having fun!
Besides all those physical perks, yoga is well known as a de-stressor. The purpose of yoga is to help you relax and de-clutter your mind. Emphasis is on focus and flow – how the mind and body work together. Yoga taps into your inner source of energy.
And it all starts with the breathing. Slow, deep breathing. From the diaphragm. Breathe in and breathe out very slowly. Do you feel yourself beginning to relax? Close your eyes. The thoughts racing around in your mind should start to drift away. Yoga followers will tell you that people can actually breathe out 90 percent of the toxins in your body just by breathing correctly. Wow. And just think how much better this would be with a yoga instructor demonstrating these techniques right in front of you!
So once you’ve got the breathing down, you’re ready to move into meditation. According to the experts, meditation can’t be forced. You need to “glide” into it as a result of relaxed breathing and a clear mind. The result? A sense of calm and feeling of confidence and control.
So if you were told that doing one thing could help you relax, improve your sleep, help you focus, reduce arthritis pain, improve your balance, reduce your stress and help you reach that sock you just dropped, what would you say? How about, “Sign me up for yoga please!”
Aston Gardens At Pelican Marsh is a premier senior living community in Naples, Florida. Our community provides multiple levels of care for aging adults, including independent senior living, assisted living, and memory care. Learn more about our programs by contacting us online or giving us a call at 239.593.1923 today!