The benefits of yoga are numerous and for people of all ages and fitness levels. This ancient practice can help you improve your health, gain peace of mind, and strengthen your body—even if you’re over 50. While there are plenty of myths about yoga being only for the young and agile, here are the top ways that yoga can benefit aging adults in particular.
The leading cause of death in America is cardiovascular disease, and hypertension is a big part. With regular practice, yoga can help reduce high blood pressure by helping to relax your muscles and arteries. This also helps to improve circulation, so you have more oxygen throughout your body, which makes for healthier cells.
As we age, it becomes harder for our bodies to keep up with our daily tasks. Our joints start getting stiffer, and it’s harder to reach what we used to be able to effortlessly. By practicing yoga at least twice a week for 30 minutes or more, you can help improve your overall flexibility and strength by stretching out those tight muscles in your hips, back, shoulders, and chest. The same places cause most aging family members pain from overuse or injury.
Better Sleep Habits
As you age, poor sleep can take a serious toll on your physical and mental health. Poor sleep habits like tossing and turning, spending too much time in bed, or going to bed at different times each night can result in restlessness and trouble concentrating during your waking hours. Studies have shown that Aging adults who practice yoga regularly are better able to fall asleep faster at night, they spend less time awake during their nighttime sleep cycle than their non-yoga-practicing counterparts, and they enjoy more intense sleep while they’re sleeping. With greater focus and productivity during their waking hours and stronger muscles throughout their bodies than those who don’t exercise regularly, yoga is a great choice for people in their golden years.
Improve Strength and Protect Joints
Yoga is a series of poses designed to increase strength and flexibility. The postures are challenging, but they also help relax muscles and joints. Some research suggests that certain poses may offer additional joint protection to people with osteoarthritis and older adults at increased risk for developing rheumatoid arthritis. A 2020 review found that some yoga practices could help strengthen muscles in people with rheumatoid arthritis, although more study is needed. Exercise—including yoga—has also been linked to improved mobility among seniors.
Control Type 2 Diabetes
As people age, they are more susceptible to a number of health problems. The good news is that yoga can help you stay healthy and fit no matter what your age is. By practicing regular yoga, you can significantly reduce your risk for many serious medical conditions and improve your overall quality of life. One of these conditions is type 2 diabetes. According to studies published in Yoga Journal, people who regularly practiced Hatha yoga had fewer symptoms and better control over their blood sugar levels than those who didn’t practice yoga at all.
The slow and steady stretching poses in yoga help maintain flexibility and prevent stiffness, making it easier to lose weight. Your body burns more calories during a yoga session than when engaged in any other physical activity, but it’s a low-impact form of exercise that does not put pressure on your joints. This makes yoga a great alternative for aging family members with arthritis or joint issues. It also helps relieve stress so you can feel calm, relaxed, and refreshed after each class.