According to “the” study 20% of the 17 million yoga practitioners in America are over the age of 55. Older adults like yoga because it’s fun and benefit them in many way.
• One, it is low impact making it easy on the joints.
• Two, it can lessen the effects of many medical conditions, like chronic back pain, type 2 diabetes and arthritis, along with improving heart health and quality of sleep. All issues that seem to effect seniors more so than other younger age populations.
• Three, it increases joint flexibility. As we age, our joints begin to stiffen. By doing a series of different yoga poses two to three times per week, you can actually get back some of joint range of motion you lost over time.
• Four, yoga restores balance. As falls are a major cause of broken bones among seniors, regaining your balance can save you a trip to the emergency room and follow-up pain and care afterwards.
• Five, it keeps the mind sharp. Yoga not only is a physical type of exercise for the body, but also exercise for the mind. Most types of yoga involves meditation which can keep your thinking clear.
Which Yoga Class is the Right One?
If you are just starting yoga, be sure to get in a class geared to your level – beginner or Level One. Not only will you learn how to do the poses correctly, but it will move at a pace more comfortable for older adults. Even after learning how to do yoga, be sure your class is geared toward seniors. If you have some physical limitations already, then look for a “restorative” class.
With over 100 types of yoga, it can be hard to choose a type that will be right for you. Ashtanga, iyengar, hatha and vinyasa are all good types to choose at the beginner level. One type you will probably want to avoid as a senior is Bikram Yoga. It is done in hot/humid environment with a room temperature of 105 degrees F and 40% humidity.
To find a beginner yoga class in your area, look no further than adult education programs, YMCA/YWCAs, libraries, gyms and other community organizations.
If you belong to a health club, most offer yoga classes. Some include classes as part of a membership while others offer it for a fee. Most classes last 50 to 90 minutes.
Regardless of the status of your health, yoga will most likely be able to help you. The key is finding the right class so try out a few different types of yoga to see which one is right for you. Five-thousand years of yoga teachings can’t be all wrong.
Not only is yoga joint friendly, it actually improves the range-of-motion of joints by increasing their flexibility. This means less pain and stiffness. Plus two other benefits from yoga are increased breathing capacity (meaning you get a better transfer of oxygen in and carbon dioxide out of your blood) and a better outlook on life from the meditation part.
Just be sure to get in a class geared to your age group and physical ability.
All of these exercises, except the elliptical trainer, can be done outside where your body can soak up Vitamin D and you can breathe in fresh air.
However, when the weather turns bad, all can be done indoors. Without the sun as an older person, be sure to get the daily recommended dose of Vitamin D from food or supplement.
Vitamin D deficiency is common in older adults. Up to age 70, the daily amount is 600 IU per day; after age 70 it jumps to 800IU.
Without enough Vitamin D, your body will not be able to make use of the calcium you take in each day, thus increasing your risk of osteoporosis through the loss of bone density.
Doing aerobics in a pool is probably the most beneficial of them all. Not only can you get a good cardio exercise, but strength building too. By using the natural resistance of water, it is a total body workout that is very joint friendly.
Exercising in an outdoor pool is best as you can also get the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin D with just 5 to 10 minutes of sun exposure. If you are in an area with inclement weather in the winter, find an indoor pool to use.
Whether you cycle indoors on a stationary bike or outdoors, cycling is a good lower body workout.
To get the maximum benefit, choose a route with varied terrain.
How Much Sleep Do You Need As You Get Older?
As a senior, you need about as much sleep as younger adults that is about eight hours per night.
However as an individual, you many need more or less sleep depending on several factors. Certain conditions, medical or otherwise, can prevent you from going right to sleep right away or may have you getting up once to several times per night, so you may not get the quality or quantity of sleep you need all at one time.
Chronic pain, prescription medication side effects and frequent urination are all common reasons for sleep interruption among seniors. However, usually your doctor can help alleviate some symptoms or at least reduce the effects so that you can sleep better.
When at the doctor the next time, mention the problems you are having as far as getting a good night’s sleep.
Another common cause of sleep deprivation can be the conditions in your bedroom. When did you last replace your mattress? If the one you have now is over eight years old, it is time to get a new one. The same with your pillow. It too may also need replacing. Mattresses and pillows both break down over time and can cause aches and pains that prevent you from getting the sleep you need.
Also make sure your bedroom is at a comfortable temperature. Being too hot or too cold can interrupt your sleep pattern too.
Sleep Deficit Issues
What happens if you don’t get enough sleep? Your body can react in several different ways.
Common mental issues include impaired concentration, lapse of memory, anxiety and depression. Physical issues can include weight gain, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and immune deficiency.
How to Sleep Better
If you are not getting the amount or quality of sleep that you should, there are several things you can do to improve your sleeping besides adjusting the room temperature and replacing your pillow and mattress.
First, get into a routine of going to bed about the same time each night. This tends to get your body into a circadian rhythm where over time, it will expect you to be ready to go to sleep at a certain time and will make body function adjustments accordingly.
Second, exercise. By exercising for at least 30 minutes most days, you can help prevent gaining weight, which can also prevent the other common physical reasons for not getting to sleep right away – diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.
Third, limit your eating and intake of alcohol to no later than three hours before going to bed. If your body has to work at processing food or drink, it cannot go into a rest cycle and ends up keeping you awake.
Finally, don’t overlook a midday nap of an hour or so to help you recover some of the time lost of not sleeping at night. It will help reduce your sleep deficit and can leave you feeling refreshed and recharged.