We all know that staying active as we age can provide tremendous health benefits; yet, it can be a challenge to encourage our elder loved ones to exercise. Fear of falling and decreased mobility can have a cascade effect in which the senior avoids the risk of activity, leading to further inactivity, which then results in weakness, increased loss of mobility and fall risk.
One solution is to encourage your loved one to get involved in a senior fitness class that involves tai chi or yoga. The top Surprise home care agency, Nightingale Homecare, shares details on the benefits of both of these types of exercise.
Although tai chi was originally a martial art originating over 700 years ago, it is mainly practiced today as an excellent form of exercise and is often described as “meditation in motion.” The essential principles of tai chi include mind integrated with the body, control of movements and breathing, generating internal energy, mindfulness, stretching and serenity.
The Taoist Tai Chi Organization recently compiled the results of a survey of over 3,000 members in 29 states pointing to the health benefits of tai chi practice. While we all know that stretching and movement exercise can improve health overall, health benefits for those with chronic conditions and mobility issues are especially notable. Tai chi can be practiced by anyone of any age, because it is individualized and has significant appeal to the elderly.
The questionnaire compiled by the Taoist organization found that tai chi students experienced significant improvement in:
- Muscle issues
- Cognitive function
- Blood Pressure
- Sleep quality
Yoga is another form of low-impact exercise that has tremendous health benefits for the elderly. As we get older, muscles tend to stiffen, our joints lose their range of motion and we become more susceptible to chronic problems such as osteoporosis, arthritis and heart disease. Yoga can help slow down the effects of the aging process by maintaining muscle softness and flexibility, keeping the mind alert and awake, encouraging relaxation and strengthening muscles and joints. Yoga can also:
- Reduce swelling in joints
- Increase joint mobility and strength
- Improve balance and stability
- Reduce chances of having a fall
- Improve cardiovascular health
- Aid digestion and elimination
- Improve sleep
- Lower blood pressure and cholesterol
- Improve blood flow
- Improve mood and wellbeing
- Recovery from surgery
- Aid in the grieving process
- With depression and anxiety
It will be important for you to check out the yoga class prior to your loved one beginning classes, as there are several intensity degrees. Start by calling your local yoga studio to find out if they have a gentle, beginners’ class appropriate for the elderly. Remember, yoga isn’t supposed to hurt, so remind your loved one to move out of a pose if he or she feels pain.
With any senior fitness program, encourage your loved one to start slow and try to stay consistent. Regular tai chi or yoga practice can play an important part in keeping your loved one healthy and feeling strong. Practicing with your loved one can provide support and encouragement that may be necessary to continue a regular exercise plan.