It doesn’t matter if you’re 17 or 75 — exercise is a powerful tool that can enhance your quality of living and, according to researchers in the UK, can lengthen your life by five years. However, if chronic pain or mobility limitations have you clutching tightly to your armchair, you may think that exercise is impossible. While you may no longer be able to run a marathon or lift weights like a bodybuilder, yoga is a gentle alternative, and you can master this ancient art regardless of age.
A Class for You
Finding a senior-oriented yoga class is easy, and most gyms and senior centers offer classes for the 65-and-up crowd. Silver Sneakers, which is a valuable benefit for many Medicare Advantage subscribers, offers access to more than 12,000 fitness facilities throughout the US. Guide for Seniors notes that this includes exercise classes, including yoga, along with assistance from certified instructors. If you are enrolled in basic Medicare, do your research online, and then speak with a licensed Medicare agent at a trusted company like UnitedHealthcare to see if you can save money by switching to an Advantage plan that includes access to fitness facilities.
If you think yoga may be right for you or a senior loved one, you should know that not all yoga is the same. Seniors with arthritis pain, for example, may benefit most from an aquatic yoga class. Similar to water aerobics, aquatic yoga utilizes the buoyancy of the water to help seniors maintain their balance and reduce pressure on the joints.
Yoga is considered a low-impact exercise that improves flexibility, strength, and balance. Stretching is a major component of yoga, and can help relieve joint stiffness, muscle tightness, and the aches and pains that can plague an older body. Aaptiv further reports that stretching can help seniors improve mobility and posture, but suggests talking to your doctor before trying any new stretching exercise.
Gathering the Gear
You don’t have to invest in a ton of expensive gym equipment to fully participate in a senior yoga class. However, there are a few accessories that can make the experience even more enjoyable. A yoga mat, softens a hard floor, and a towel to wipe away sweat are easy to carry around and, more importantly, washable. Yoga Outlet notes that comfortable athletic clothing, which should be made of breathable fabric, is essential. Loose-fitting clothing should be avoided. Before booking a class, discuss with the instructor the possibility of starting with modified poses, and ensure they have a chair or other stability equipment available to accommodate your altered moves.
Despite its accessibility and gentle nature, yoga is not without its risks. Wrist pain, pulled hamstrings, and lower back injuries are common. Injuries are mostly preventable by ensuring proper alignment and taking it slowly. A good rule of thumb is that if something hurts, stop. You can ask your teacher for advice on how to ease pain or how to evaluate your posture. Sometimes, something as simple as shifting your weight to one side can make a huge difference.
Just as important as physical wellness are the social benefits that you’ll enjoy by participating in a senior fitness class. Isolation is one of the top causes of depression among older individuals, and depression can lead you to neglect your physical health.
Don’t be intimidated by twenty-somethings in form-fitting leggings and crop tops. You don’t have to be young and in the best shape of your life to enjoy and reap the benefits of yoga, and if you have the right insurance, the cost of your classes is already covered.
Image via Pixabay