May 7, 2018 by Stephanie Howe - Owner, Comfort Keepers
Yoga: Mind and Body Wellness for Seniors
For most people, there was a time in their lives when it was possible to practically spring out of bed in the morning with supreme agility, and begin the day, without a twinge of pain. However, seniors have undoubtedly endured a certain amount of wear and tear on the body. From the moment seniors awake, wear and tear can make even slight movements painful, decrease the quality of life, and potentially lead to varying degrees of depression.
The thought, then, of participating in a physical fitness activity, which requires energy and flexibility, can seem impossible. People sometimes avoid fitness only to suffer increased pain, stiffness, and health deterioration. It's a vicious cycle, but one that can frequently be settled by the introduction of yoga into senior care.
You Don't Have to Be Young to Benefit from Yoga
Yoga is a fitness activity that revolves around gentle movements of the body, breath control, and meditation. Much of it can even be done while sitting in a chair, or with the assistance of a home health care aid, which makes it a good option for seniors, and the benefits are far-reaching.
About health, most people tend to categorize their care as physical or mental health, and often, what activities benefit one might also benefit the other. Such is the case with yoga - it is a mind and body approach to wellness.
Physical Benefits of Yoga
There are enormous physical rewards to be reaped from practicing yoga, and one of those is an improvement in flexibility.The use of low-impact movements can decrease the stiffness in muscles and ligaments, allowing a person to gain control of good posture techniques. By strengthening the supporting muscles, as well, yoga can prevent injuries.
Likewise, balance is an issue for many seniors, even those who have home care assistance. Building and maintaining proper balance is crucial for fall prevention, and yoga is a perfect way for seniors to exercise these important techniques, through various poses.
Hypertension (high blood pressure) is another condition that adversely affects the health of many seniors, as it is linked to heart disease, stroke, and death. This condition requires the heart to work harder to pump the blood, and it is caused by many factors from lifestyle choices and diet, simply to age. Yoga can sometimes lower blood pressure, and it often improves circulation, bringing a fresh supply of oxygen to the hands and feet.
Overall heart health improves through yoga, which raises the heart rate while lowering blood pressure. Further, by decreasing cortisol levels, yoga can improve other areas of health. High levels of cortisol are blamed for high blood pressure, but also for insulin resistance and depression. Through yoga poses and meditation, cortisol levels decrease, along with the threat of related health concerns.
Yoga on the Mind
In addition to lowering cortisol levels, yoga can also lower monoamine oxidase, which depletes neurotransmitters, affecting mood, memory and sleep; it also increases serotonin.
Mindfulness, which is the mental state of being focused on the present moment while accepting thoughts and feelings, is also a positive consequence of yoga. It is credited with helping people to make connections with their environment and with each other.
Yoga is a practice encouraged by our professional home care and assisted living staff at Comfort Keepers in Toms River, NJ. For more information about our stellar programs and options, please call (732) 557-0010, or fill out our contact page on our website.