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May 14, 2013

Yoga: Improving Strength, Balance, and Flexibility for Older Adults

Yoga is an exercise that’'s all about balance. It’'s about the harmony between your body, mind, and spirit. Those who practice it improve their flexibility, strength, and breathing. Starting a yoga program, whether you’'re practicing at home in your living room or with an instructor at a studio, is a rewarding and effective way to improve your overall wellness. Yoga programs can range from very simple exercises to advanced full-body movements, so don’'t worry if you’'re starting from scratch. Even beginner exercises help build your core strength, balance, and flexibility.

Let’s take a look at how mature adults can benefit from yoga.

    • Flexibility: Whether you’'ve developed some range of motion limitations because of arthritis, or you’'re just not as limber as you used to be, yoga is a gentle way to regain some of your flexibility. If you don’'t feel comfortable getting on the floor for your yoga workout, there are exercise routines and instructors who specialize in chair yoga, which offers some of the same stretching benefits as the more intense floor exercises. As you build strength, you can add in more advanced yoga positions.
    • Strength: Adults start to lose muscle mass around age 40, with the process accelerating around age 50. This can leave older adults feeling weaker and, if nothing is done, lead to some loss of independence later in life. The good news is there are things you can do to prevent or reverse muscle loss. As the old adage goes, you have to use it or lose it. In yoga, you challenge your muscles to support the weight of your body as you transition into different positions. Yoga exercises the muscles you don’'t use every day and tones the ones you do.
    • Balance: This might be the most important benefit of yoga for older adults. According to the National Institute of Health, 1.6 million older adults go to the emergency room each year because of a fall. These falls can result in bruises, fractures, or even broken bones. One of the best things you can do to prevent falls is to practice balance and build muscle strength, and yoga specializes in both. Practicing yoga positions helps you get to know your body and connects you with your center of balance. Just like building flexibility and strength, balance is something that can be practiced and improved.
    • Meditation: There are so many stresses to everyday life that it’'s easy to feel anxious and overwhelmed at times. During those periods, it’'s nice to take some time out to relax. In addition to working your body, yoga enriches your mental health. Yoga exercises include moments of meditation, when you focus on breathing deeply and feeling peaceful. After a yoga routine, you should feel calm and refreshed.

See our blog for even more tips older adults can follow to stay healthy, or download the free guide “Remaining Active: How to Begin a Regular Exercise Routine

Remaining Active


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