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3 Surprising Health Benefits of Yoga for Seniors

By Sixty and Me August 15, 2013 Health and Fitness

If you still classify yoga as “that thing my daughter does to stretch and relax”, you may be surprised at how valuable role yoga can play in health care. Yoga for seniors can reduce symptoms and improve overall wellness for people with serious and/or chronic illnesses.

Here’s just a brief summary of what yoga for senior can do for your health:

Decrease Pain from Arthritis and Other Conditions Related to Joint Inflammation

Yoga breathing practices enhance a sense of well-being and help eliminate stress which exacerbates joint pain. Targeted yoga poses, chosen for you by a qualified yoga instructor aware of your specific areas of pain, can help strengthen the joints as well as making them more flexible. Also, yoga practice can also decrease the high levels of uric acid which contribute to gout.

Enhance Health for Patients With Cardiovascular Disease

Yoga students are often pleasantly surprised to learn that their blood pressure is lower after their first yoga class. As they develop a regular practice of yoga, their blood pressure remains at lower levels in between classes. Plus yoga helps patients who have undergone heart surgery cope with feelings of depression, stress and anxiety.

The connection between yoga and heart health has gained so much acceptance in the medical community that yoga is part of the Medicare-recognized Dean Ornish Program for Reversing Heart Disease.

Unlike traditional cardiac rehab programs, the Ornish program emphasizes four elements: stress management, moderate exercise, nutrition and group support. Yoga classes directly contribute to the first two of these components. Since hospitals can bill Medicare for the Ornish program, this offers a very accessible means for heart patients to use yoga to improve their health regardless of their income level.

Help with Managing Type 2 Diabetes

In Type 2 diabetes, the pancreas does not produce enough insulin. This insulin-deficiency is generally related to lifestyle and stress factors. Regular yoga practice can significantly reduce stress levels.

Also, yoga practice can induce short-term improvements in fasting glucose and cholesterol levels. This effect occurs because yoga stimulates the organs which regulate metabolism.

Many people do not realize that specific yoga poses or asanas are designed not only to enhance limberness in certain muscles but to in effect massage our internal organs. A trained yoga instructor can help guide diabetic students to learn specific asanas which directly benefit the pancreas.

Note that all of these yogic health benefits depend on regular practice as well as utilizing yoga as part of an overall healthy lifestyle. No single yoga pose or yoga class will function as a magical cure. However, yoga for seniors can help reinforce healthier choices by eliminating the tension which often leads to poor habits such as overeating, smoking and excessive consumption of alcohol.

What your take on this? Have you tried yoga before? What was your experience and what benefits did you see? Please add your thoughts in the comments section below and remember to check out our gentle yoga video series that we filmed in beautiful Bali specifically for you!

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The Author

Sixty and Me is a community of over 500,000 women over 60 founded by Margaret Manning. Our editorial team publishes articles on lifestyle topics including fashion, dating, retirement and money.

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