We’ve all read about the benefits of yoga for older adults. It helps with core strength, balance and overall flexibility. But for seniors, yoga may not sound very appealing. Just getting down on a yoga mat may be too difficult for someone living with osteoarthritis or other physical impairments.
But exercise – especially the kind that helps improve core strength and flexibility – is increasingly more important as we age. Falls remain one of the leading causes of injuries and fatalities in the aging population. And the evening news has been full of warnings about the dangers of sitting more than four hours a day.
Setting all other risks factors aside, those who sit for more than four hours a day increase their risk of death from cardiovascular disease by 125% and for death by any cause by 50%. Clearly the case for some form of exercise at every age is strong.
This is where Chair Yoga can help.
Chair yoga is essentially yoga modified for a seated position. It accommodates the physical limitations those living with osteoarthritis may have while still maintaining the benefits of yoga, which include:
- Stronger core
- Increased flexibility, mobility and balance
- Improved feeling of well-being
- Better breathing and increased oxygen intake
- Improved relaxation response to stress
- Weight loss and weight control
For seniors, yoga has also been shown to help manage the chronic pain and symptoms that accompany health conditions such as:
- Heart disease
- Multiple Sclerosis
There are basic chair exercises that you can tackle as an easy means of getting started. You may find it helpful to print them out and try them on your own or to buy a DVD and follow along. Either way, here are a few helpful resources:
Here’s an infographic showing different Chair Yoga poses:
One strong note of caution. An important “to do” before tackling any new form of exercise is to consult with your doctor first. Get their permission before starting Chair Yoga.
Have you tried Chair Yoga, or observed a class at an area assisted living community or senior center?
We would love to hear what you thought of it in the Comments below.