Saturday, April 28, 2012

Chair Yoga for a Growing Senior Population


By Sangeetha Saran

Thanks to advancements in healthcare and improvements in the quality of nutrition available, more people than ever before are living to see old age. Seniors represent the fastest growing segment of the population, and there is much concern over how to make the most out of those golden years. With rising medical costs, more and more seniors and their families are turning to complementary therapies like chair yoga as a natural way to improve their health and quality of life.

The vast majority of people live a largely sedentary lifestyle, and this doesn't change with age. In fact, sedentary habits are often the hardest to break for seniors, since old age makes it much harder to start living a more active lifestyle. The senior years are already a prime opportunity to pack on the pounds due to slowing metabolisms, so engaging in some form of exercise is essential to reduce weight gain during this time. The risk of falling rules out many of the most popular exercises for weight loss, but chair yoga is a perfect exercise solution for seniors looking for a safe way to get the physical movement they need.

Enhancing Balance

A serious issue facing seniors is lack of balance, which significantly contributes to falls. Falls are the leading cause of death for senior citizens, so anything that can safely improve overall balance is extremely beneficial. Chair yoga naturally improves balance for seniors by strengthening the core muscles of the body. It has been said that the muscles in the hips, trunk, and neck, are the first line of defense in terms of preventing falls.

However, the muscle groups in the legs are also of equal importance.  Therefore, the whole body is important when considering balance.  Chair Yoga teachers can help students safely gain balance with a holistic program of controlled movement.

Back to the Core

When an individual begins to lose their balance, the core muscles immediately contract and attempt to bring the body back into place. Making these muscles as strong and flexible as possible goes a long way in preventing falls before they start. With chair yoga, the core can be strengthened with less risk of injuries from falls. It's a perfect fit.

Additionally, having a stronger core changes the distribution of weight through the back and shoulders, automatically grounding the body and providing more stability and balance. Through the practice of chair yoga, seniors can potentially undo the damage caused by years of being sedentary in addition to warding off age related declines in their existing balance levels.

Consistent chair yoga practice also helps prevent blood clots, eases joint pain associated with arthritis, reduces blood pressure, lowers stress levels and helps seniors sleep better at night. Suffice it to say, chair yoga successfully meets the needs of this growing segment of our population, and all without pills or prescriptions.

© Copyright 2012 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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