6 Interesting Benefits of Yoga for Seniors

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By Karen Weeks

Karen Weeks – Elderwellness.net

karen@elderwellness.net

Yoga can be practiced by anyone at any point in their life. Participation in yoga has nearly doubled in just a couple of years as people have realized the powerful health benefits that it provides. If you’re a senior who is considering getting started in yoga, here are some benefits you may enjoy from your practice.

 

  1. Better dental health

 

There is a well-defined link between mental health problems, like stress and depression, and poor dental health. When you’re stressed out, your immune system is weakened and your gums are more prone to bacterial invasion. Antidepressants can also dry out your mouth, which can make it harder to wash food away from your teeth and gums. If you tend to grind your teeth when you’re stressed out, you can also have problems with your jaw. 

 

Yoga is an excellent activity to help relax you. You learn better breathing patterns as well as how to soothe your mind and body. These are good stress-reducing activities that have long-term effects. Despite yoga’s benefits for oral health, you should still find a dentist to visit if you have problems with tooth or jaw pain.

 

  1. Improved gut health

 

Changing diet and age can reduce the overall diversity of microbes in the gut, and this lack of diversity can make the body less healthy and responsive. Hyperbiotics explains that exercise can boost gut health by improving the gut microbiome. The gut microbiome is the collection of microbes that naturally live in our bodies and help us digest. Yoga is one easy exercise you can start, even if you haven’t exercised in a while. This physical activity will help you achieve a happier gut, which will help you feel happier overall.

 

  1. Healthier joints

 

Yoga can improve flexibility and joint health. When it’s paired with meditation, it can reduce stiffness. Part of this comes from learning proper alignment of the body, as well as learning how to modify poses that can help minimize pain in your body. Meditation helps you develop a greater awareness of the stiffness in your body and work on relaxing whatever might get stiff.

 

  1. Reduced blood pressure

 

Research has suggested that yoga and meditation as a possible way to alleviate mild problems with blood pressure. Yoga can be a light-intensity activity, which is great if you’re a beginner. Physical activity is recommended for people who have high blood pressure, and yoga can be a big part of that. It can also help your stress response which can impact your blood pressure. Yoga is a good combination of getting your heart rate up while also relaxing your body and mind.

 

  1. Better balance

 

Research has demonstrated that yoga can be a powerful way to improve balance and mobility in older populations. This is especially important in arming you against potential falls and bone breaks. Yoga has all sorts of poses that can help you gain strength and balance within yourself, such as “tree pose.” It will also help you improve your core strength, which helps your balance as well.

 

  1. Strong bones

 

A critical part of bone health is getting physical activity. Some activities are better than others when it comes to building and maintaining strong bones. Yoga is one of these activities, as you build greater strength in your muscles and bones, and you can do it all in a low-impact way. However, if you have low bone density, make sure you do alternatives to specific poses or avoid them outright, such as forward folds and spinal twists. Listen to your body, and avoid any pose that feels painful.

 

Where to Do Yoga

 

Now that you’ve learned all about yoga’s benefits, you may be interested in how to get started on your own yoga practice. The beauty of yoga is that it can be practiced in the comfort of your own home. You can access fitness apps on a fitness tracker or other device to learn yoga poses, or refer to YouTube exercise videos that are geared toward seniors. You may also find that during your at-home practice, you’ll want to enhance your yoga routine with additional exercises like stretches, chair exercises, and resistance training. Mixing up your exercises can help you stay motivated and improve workout performance.

 

If you’d prefer to practice yoga outside of the home, you can learn from a professional yoga instructor who can teach you how to do each pose properly. You can check out some yoga studios in your neighborhood; some may even offer classes specially suited for seniors. 

 

An important part of starting your yoga practice is modifying it to fit your individual circumstances. Start slowly, and focus on poses that you’re comfortable with. As long as you’re careful and comfortable with your progress, yoga is worth giving a try in your senior years.

The Fantastic Four For Bone Health

Image ID : 17911161
Copyright : Sebastian Kaulitzki

If you’re very serious about bone health, then you need to make sure that you have optimal levels of four key nutrients. The four big players in the battle for good bone health are:

Calcium
Vitamin D3
Vitamin K
Magnesium

CALCIUM:
Calcium is the most plentiful mineral in the body, comprising the bulk of bone and tooth material, and is also involved in numerous vital body functions. Blood levels of calcium must be high enough to prevent Vitamin D3 from stealing calcium from the stores in your bones. Otherwise, the process of leaching calcium from the bones will result in the development of osteopenia and osteoporosis over time.

Common dietary sources of calcium include seafood, leafy greens, legumes, dried fruit, tofu, milk, cheese, and yogurt. The U.S. recommended daily allowance is 1,300 milligrams daily for children, 1,000 milligrams daily for most adults, and 1,200 milligrams daily for women over 50 and elderly individuals over the age of 70. The dosage should be split up, since the body typically cannot absorb more than about 500 milligrams at a time.

VITAMIN D3:
Vitamin D3 is an important regulator of calcium levels in the blood, maintaining those levels primarily by enhancing the absorption of calcium from food consumed. However, when insufficient calcium is provided by food sources, vitamin D3 will draw on the calcium which is stored in bones. Vitamin D3 also acts as a hormone in the body and is responsible for a myriad of physiological processes. Dietary sources of Vitamin D include primarily fatty fish like salmon and tuna, egg yolks, and cheese. Some foods like dairy, cereals, and orange juice are often fortified with vitamin D as well.

If you prefer to take a supplement, vitamin D3 is available in several potencies. I generally recommend 5,000 IU per day, especially if you have confirmed low serum vitamin D3 levels.

VITAMIN K:
Known more for its essential role in the blood clotting sequence, vitamin K plays an important role in the prevention of fractures by promoting the accumulation of calcium in bones and teeth. It promotes calcification in bones and teeth by activating osteocalcin, while also preventing calcium from accumulating in soft tissues such as blood vessels. It is found in leafy greens such as parsley, kale, brussels sprouts, lettuce and spinach, fermented legumes and vegetables, as well as in some fatty, animal-sourced foods, such as egg yolk, liver and cheese.

Adequate daily intake of vitamin K is 90 mcg for women and 120 mcg for men. Since it is fat-soluble, it’s a good idea to consume it with a healthy dietary fat source. Vitamin K levels should not be ignored when supplementing one’s diet with vitamin D3, as high levels of vitamin D3 have been shown to cause blood vessel calcification when vitamin K levels are low.

MAGNESIUM:
While calcium makes up most of the tissue found in bone and teeth, magnesium gives those structures their strength and rigidity. In addition, adequate levels of magnesium must be present for the absorption and metabolism of calcium to occur.

Dietary sources of magnesium include spinach and other leafy greens, whole grains, dark chocolate, nuts like almonds and walnuts, legumes, and avocado. Magnesium can also be taken in supplement form, and comes in many varieties.

SUMMARY:
Make sure you are taking all four supplements to optimize bone health. It’s always a good idea to get bloodwork to determine serum levels of these substances. Make sure to consult with your physician before starting any of these supplements, especially if you are taking medications which may interfere with or interact with supplementation.