This is a guest post by Shawn Tremaine.
As you get older your body naturally starts to weaken, that’s the nature of apoptosis or the natural process whereby cells are programmed to die. But that doesn’t mean that your body doesn’t have a chance to counter those measures, nor does it mean that you don’t exercise. While it might not come to the forefront of your mind when you think of good exercises for seniors, yoga is actually the perfect workout.
Everybody needs exercise; and for seniors, exercise can cut down on potential injuries, muscle fatigue, atrophy, hypertension, obesity and help with circulation, flexibility, respiration and overall good cardiovascular health. Many seniors have taken to walking or using exercise bikes and other similarly singular exercises – which are all good and fine – but what they don’t realize is that yoga has the potential to address all the issues and benefits addressed in the beginning of this paragraph.
Yoga isn’t just a fad about people wearing tight-fitting clothing and stretching in weird positions while in a heated room. Much of what is involved in yoga, the stretches and holds, are what’s known as active stretching – that is, stretches that require you to use only your body’s strength to maintain the stretch; with that comes the breathing and the slightly raised heartbeat – meaning you are engaging in a cardiovascular exercise as well. When performing yoga, your body is strengthening its fine muscles and the connective tissues in your joints, enhancing your balance and making your body better suited to stabilizing itself and keeping muscles and bones in place. Of course, yoga doesn’t just work your fine muscles, every major muscle group is represented and worked, giving you a whole body workout that is much less stressful and potentially damaging than weight lifting.
The cardio aspect of yoga is gained by the fact that your heartbeat needs to increase in order to pump more oxygen into the muscles you’re using. Because you’re using not just one muscle but many, and usually changing from one group to the next with each movement, your body is constantly in need of oxygen and your heart has to work to replenish it. However, unlike running and high-intensity stairs, yoga is still a low impact workout on your body.
Upon first glance, many of the positions of yoga might seem impossible or otherworldly for seniors – and that may certainly be true of some of the positions – but the great thing about yoga is that it is available at every level of difficulty and endlessly customizable. This allows you to workout at your own pace and within your own levels of comfort. Talk with an instructor beforehand about any issues you may have – such as knee, neck or back problems – and they’ll be able to work in alternative movements for you into the exercise. You might struggle early on, but you’ll likely find that after a little bit of time you’ll be able to perform positions you never thought possible.
Yoga is a constructive exercise that incorporates every major aspect of needed exercise, allowing you to keep building and advancing, making it a perfect exercise for anyone and especially for seniors as many other kinds of exercise can prove too difficult or dangerous to engage in. After all, there’s a reason why so many of the Indians who practice yoga can still perform incredible feats in their senior years that would make people in their twenties drop their jaws!
Author bio: Shawn Tremaine is a freelance health and fitness writer and personal trainer. He likes to spend as much time as possible with his children, but when he’s not doing that or working out he enjoys reviewing sites like Mind Body Mojo.