September provides us with National Women’s Health and Fitness Day as well as National Yoga Awareness month, which seems like the perfect reason to talk about why yoga should be an integral part of your exercise routine, especially if you are a woman over the age of 60.
Yoga might seem like a trendy type of exercise for young people, but it is actually a remarkably effective workout for seniors as well. In particular, yoga for women over 60 has a variety of positive benefits for mind, body and soul. Yoga for seniors can help to reduce certain chronic health symptoms, can improve balance and flexibility and can also provide a positive form of relief from stress and anxiety.
While yoga may seem new to some, it has actually been around for thousands of years. The practice of yoga originated in ancient India, and was adopted as a philosophical and spiritual practice by schools of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. Yoga made it’s way to the western world by the middle of the nineteenth century and by the middle of the twentieth century, it had entered into the mainstream thanks to the counterculture movement of the 1960’s. By the 1980’s, yoga had become a recognized form of exercise in America and the industry seemed to explode in 2001.
There is a reason why yoga has survived all these years: the benefits of yoga cannot be denied. In fact, many of them have been proven by science. Here are a few of the particular perks of yoga for women over 60:
Decrease Aches And Pains
Exercise often becomes more difficult with age because of the physical toll it can take on your body. High impact exercise can often inflame knees, hips and wrists, especially for those who suffer from chronic conditions like arthritis. Studies have shown that yoga can decrease inflammation by lowering stress levels through measured breathing exercises.
The most important aspect of yoga for seniors is choosing the right class for your body and ability and speaking with the instructor beforehand to alert them of any conditions or aches you might have. A yoga class that is a good fit will be able to help you modify certain positions to keep your joints protected while also strengthening and stretching your bones and muscles.
One of the big benefits of yoga is the ability to lower your blood pressure after just one class. In a study published by Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, researchers found that yoga had a “significant effect on both systolic and diastolic blood pressure” reducing a person’s “risk of coronary heart disease and stroke.” They also discovered that “the level of overall blood pressure reduction achieved by yoga is similar to that of other lifestyle modifications advocated by current guidelines, including exercise and reduced intake of sodium and alcohol.”
One of the main reasons that researchers believe yoga has a positive effect on hypertension is because of three basic tenants of a yoga practice: proper posture, meditation and breathing, which help slow the nervous system, calming the mind and the body. This makes yoga for women over 60 an ideal heart-healthy workout. Since heart disease is much more common and deadly for women, anything that you can do to minimize your risk is a boon for your health.
According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation, osteoporosis is “estimated to affect 200 million women worldwide--approximately one-tenth of women aged 60, one-fifth of women aged 70, two-fifths of women aged 80 and two-thirds of women aged 90.” Osteoporosis weakens bones and can lead to breaks and fractures that can have grave consequences. As a weight-bearing activity, yoga is an excellent way for older adults to combat osteoporosis and strengthen bones.
Even a gentle yoga practice yields positive results when it comes to bone health. Yoga for seniors that involves gentle twists and stretches can help to prevent osteoporosis and also relieve any pain you may have from prior bone fractures or injuries.
One of the greatest benefits of yoga--at any age--is the stress relief that comes along with a regular practice. Not only does yoga teach you how to slow your breathing and use breath to help get you through difficult poses, it also induces a relaxation response at the end of each class. The process is called savasana, and it slows your heart rate, relaxes your muscles, eases your breathing and lowers your blood pressure, so that you arise from this suspended state feeling mellow and calm.
The British Journal of Sports Medicine published a study in 2010 on the effects of yoga on anxiety and depression in women and found that “yoga practice has benefits for the management of the symptoms of these illnesses, and can create balance in the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual capacities of individuals, so it can be used as alternative health practice to prevent depression and anxiety.” Since women are twice as likely as men to be affected by anxiety and depression, the benefits of yoga can be a wonderful holistic way to treat their conditions.
Yoga For Seniors, Anytime, Anywhere
The best part about yoga for women over 60 is that you don’t need a gym to do it. You can do yoga at home, on vacation, inside or outside, day or night. All you need is a yoga mat and any props that help you balance, such as blocks or even a sturdy chair. But it does help to have access to emergency help should you need it. Medical Guardian’s Mobile Guardian is a convenient and portable way to ensure that you always are in contact with someone who can send help should you need it.