Yoga and Meditation: Proven Benefits for Senior Health

Yoga is  the preferred form of movement for many people. Meditation might be a luxury for others. However, for the aging community, regular practice of these mindful activities should be taken more seriously. They provide quantifiable benefits for overall senior health.

Group of happy seniors practising yoga for senior health

A gentle yoga class can help improve flexibility and circulation while simultaneously reducing heart rate and blood pressure. These are measurable advantages, but there are also innumerable subtle benefits that will be unique to each individual.

For some, thought processes and attitudes will become more positive, while others may experience increased tolerance to pain. The best part is that all participants will benefit from improved quality of life.

 

Just the Facts

Mindful, intentional movement, has reportedly reduced back pain and stiffness with as little as 33 minutes a day, three days a week. “Yoga and Other Low-Impact Exercise for Seniors,” a blog post published by A Place For Mom, is an excellent resource for further information. It carefully explains the many and varied advantages of a yogic practice, citing research from Harvard Medical School.

In addition to physical movement, some practices engage mantra (word repetition) and mudra (hand postures) to create dynamic brain-building exercises. One such exercise, Kirtan Kriya, has been studied extensively due to the remarkable improvements found in practitioners’ brain function.

Better recollection, mood improvement, and increased connectivity have been observed in cases incorporating a practice of only 15 minutes a day! Psychology Today notes that this minimal investment pays off exponentially with increased memory recall and verbal acuity.

The cumulative benefits of physical yogic exercise and meditative mantra can significantly improve quality of life expectations in the senior community. The aging community often focuses on attempting to reduce the negative effects of time. With yoga and meditation, it is possible to improve and re-energize the body and brain.

 

Here’s how you can take advantage of yoga’s extraordinary benefits:

 

Yoga for Senior Health

Yoga is a wonderful option for the aging senior. The best thing about yoga is that you can practice anytime, anywhere. You don’t need a mat to practice yoga just a few minutes a day.

Think about yoga as a state of mind, a way of creating an inner peace with yourself and the world. This mindset will help you get the most out of your practice.

If you’re a beginner, the AARP has some great information to get you started with basic poses. However, if you find yourself without a mat, you can practice these simple techniques.

 

Mindful Meditation

Meditation is the art of clearing your mind to create a greater awareness and appreciation of the world around you. Practicing mindful meditation as a senior can help you center your thoughts and create an inner calm.

 

Focus on Your Breathing

Pranayama, also known as yogic breathing, is the practice of breaking down your breath to help you relax. This form of yoga can help lower your heart rate and get more oxygen to your brain. It will also help your muscles relax. Just a few minutes a day of this technique can help you renew your energy for the day.

 

Practice Your Standing Poses

Standing poses allow you to work on your balance, strength, and flexibility. Incorporate a few forward folds, standing backbends and side bends to help you keep your muscles pliable. These poses will also help reinvigorate you.

 

The most wonderful thing about yoga is that it is a personal practice. Make it what you want, take from it what you need. It is a great activity for active seniors as well as those new to exercise.

 

For more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us online or by phone at 718.376.7755. A free phone consultation can help you decide how to provide your loved ones with the assistance they need. If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn.

5 Low-Impact Exercises for Active Seniors

Senior Exercise

The aging process doesn’t mean you should give up on exercise. In reality, it is just as important to work toward fitness now, as it was in your teens. A  study by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has found that too few people over 50 participate in regular physical activity. More than a quarter of adults in this age group are at higher risk for diabetes, cancer and heart disease. A lack of exercise can exacerbate typical risk factors. With the ageism in medicine that we have spoken about in the past, the importance of senior physical activity is rarely emphasized.

The CDC recommends that adults get at least thirty minutes of exercise five days a week. Maintaining this level of activity can help manage and prevent chronic diseases. Seniors will also be able to maintain their good health and to live independently for longer. Regular exercise can also help with balance, depression and arthritis pain.

There are lots of low-impact exercises for active seniors, and studies have shown an array of health benefits which will ultimately improve quality of life.

Portrait of smiling senior couple exercising at home

Of course, not all exercises are created equal, and finding the right activity for your lifestyle and physical limitations is important. Take some time to research senior-centric programs and find the best fit for you.

To get you started, we’ve compiled a list of 5 low-impact exercises that are suitable for seniors.

 

Low-Impact Exercises for Seniors

 

Barre Class

Based on exercises utilized in ballet, barre classes focus on strength, flexibility, and balance. Seniors will also appreciate the barre for the safety it provides. They can grab onto it to prevent falls. This is a flexible format that provides options available that allow you to customize your experience. Do you need lighter weights? No problem. You can also perform wall push-ups instead of traditional push-ups.

 

Silver Sneakers

Designed specifically for the elderly, the Silver Sneakers senior fitness program offers low-impact exercises for active seniors. Classes include targeted instruction and proven results. Happily, it’s compatible with many insurance carriers, including Medicare! Visit your local gym to learn more about Silver Sneakers classes, availability, and focus. Strength, balance, and cardio classes are available at participating gyms, giving you the freedom to choose a course that suits your needs.

 

Zumba Gold

If dancing is your passion, Zumba Gold classes are designed for you! Built around simple choreography, these classes will get your blood pumping. Seniors can enjoy all the wonderful music that makes Zumba so great, and get an age-appropriate workout.

 

Pickleball

Pickleball is a combination of badminton, tennis, and ping-pong. Although it’s a fast sport, it is low impact and easy to follow. Commonly played on an adapted tennis or basketball court, the playing area is small, limiting the amount of movement necessary to play. The paddles resemble a cross between ping-pong and racquetball paddles, the ball is similar to a whiffle ball, and the nets are much lower. You can usually find pickleball at community centers as well as senior centers. Play with 2, 3 or 4 players and enjoy a different experience every time.

 

Line Dancing

This form of exercise is also social entertainment. You and your friends will arrange yourselves in lines and perform a choreographed dance in unison. Line dancing is a great way to get moving and have some fun. No instructor needed, just plenty of friends willing to participate.

 

These are just a few of the low-impact exercises for active seniors. With a little research and persistence, you can find an activity that speaks to you and actively improves your health.

 

For more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us online or by phone at 718.376.7755. A free phone consultation can help you decide how to provide your loved ones with the assistance they need. If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn.

Aging Well

Have you ever heard someone use the phrase “aging well”? It usually refers to a person’s looks but aging well can mean so much more. It’s not just about wrinkles, sagging and spots. It’s really about health.

AgingWell

Aging well means maintaining your health. A healthy body is naturally more attractive but that’s really just a side benefit of a healthy body, mind and spirit. Here are a few ways you can start aging gracefully no matter if you are 19 or 90.

 

Choose good foods.

You really are what you eat. Science has proven that over and over again. What we put into our bodies has so much influence on how well they operate. Make good choices starting at a younger age and you’ll thank yourself when you’re older.

Whole foods are always best. Choose foods that are processed as little as possible. You want your plate to be full of real food, grown from the earth and not a laboratory experiment. Leave the packaged foods and shrink-wrapped treats at the store and make an effort to eat for nutrition and not convenience.

Think about color when you make a plate. Colorful vegetables and whole grains have more nutrients than beige food. Try to eat deep greens more often. Opt for lean proteins and healthy fats like olive oil instead of fatty cuts.

Move more.

Your body was made to move. The more you move, the better you will feel. Patients of all ages with chronic conditions like fibromyalgia, MS and arthritis find relief in gentle exercise. If you want to stay healthy well into your golden years, begin an exercise program now.

Many local senior centers, community centers, gyms and YMCAs have excellent programs made just for active older adults and senior citizens. Water exercise, chair aerobics and strength training are popular choices. Look for something that you can enjoy and stick with in the long term. If you aren’t able to get out of the house for exercise, look into home healthcare services that may be able to provide qualified help like physical therapy.

Don’t forget to exercise your mind and spirit.

Most studies show that people who are involved in activities that challenge the mind and feed the soul stay in better physical health and suffer less depression as well. Some show that the progress of dementia and perhaps even Alzheimer’s can be delayed with cognitive exercise. Don’t forget that you are made up of more than a body. Your overall health includes your mind and spirit too.

Take up hobbies that stimulate your mind. Learn something new by taking adult education classes at your local community college. Engage your friends in word games and puzzles. Get familiar with the local library and read, read, read!

Find activities that soothe and feed your spiritual side too. Your preferred place of worship is always a good place to start. There are also local charities that could use your life skills and knowledge like food banks and afterschool programs. You can spend a little time improving the world and yourself in the process.

When you think about aging well, think about your whole self and what you want your later years to be like. The choices you make today will determine the quality of those years to come.

At David York Agency, we could provide direction as to how to manage the total care of your senior loved one. Please call us at (718) 376-7755 or visit us on our website DavidYorkAgency.com to become acquainted with all we offer. Please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn.