The Benefits of Chair Yoga for Seniors
Chair yoga is popular among TriCare Aged Care and Retirement Communities residents. “Our residents love it,” said Davida Webb, TriCare’s Aged Care Manager. “Most find it easy to follow regardless of their level of fitness. It helps improve their mobility by gently stretching and strengthening their body.”
Residents usually practice chair yoga in groups once or twice a week. It’s also an opportunity to socialise with other residents, have a good laugh and some biscuits afterwards. According to Davida Webb, chair yoga is part of the lifestyle program offered at all TriCare Aged Care Residences.
What is Chair Yoga?
Chair yoga is a series of exercises done while seated in a chair or standing behind it and holding onto it for support. By working on both the body and mind, seniors benefit from a revitalised body and enhanced quality of life.
Great for Beginners
Chair yoga is a great way to exercise if you’re just starting out. You don’t need to be especially flexible or athletic to participate, either—the movements are done seated on a chair and can be modified for difficulty. The exercises can even be adapted for sitting in any position, including standing up or lying down (in bed).
Work at Your Own Pace
Chair yoga features low-impact exercises that can be done at your own pace. You can move through the poses at whatever speed feels right for you. Because chair yoga focuses on gentle stretching and strengthening exercises rather than intense cardio, it’s easy to adjust the intensity of the exercise based on what works best for your body.
Flexibility is important for maintaining range of motion. Aging reduces the flexibility of your joints and muscles, making it more difficult to move around freely. If you have a limited range of motion in your joints, you may also experience pain when performing everyday activities such as reaching for something on a shelf or bending down to pick up an item off the floor. To avoid injuries that may lead to greater problems like arthritis, people over 50 should work on increasing their flexibility through stretching exercises at least three times per week.
Some chair yoga poses will help increase flexibility throughout the whole body, while others are tailor made for specific areas like the neck, shoulders, or hip flexors (the muscles that allow us to lift our legs). Just remember not to push yourself too hard when trying these poses—if it builds up too much tension in any area, then stop!
Strength and Posture
Chair yoga can also help to improve muscle strength. Without regular exercise, our muscles begin to weaken, making it harder to perform daily tasks and activities. Chair yoga can help by strengthening the muscles in your arms, legs, and core. By doing chair yoga regularly, seniors can avoid becoming dependent on others for assistance with simple tasks such as walking or getting out of bed in the morning.
Chair yoga also helps improve posture by encouraging users to sit up straight with their backs against their chairs or pillows, rather than slouching over like they would when watching television or reading a book.
Feel Strong and Stable
Many seniors have difficulty keeping their balance as they age. This can lead to falls and hospitalisations. Chair yoga helps to improve balance by focusing on coordination and strength of your core, as well as your arms and legs. With just a bit of practice each day, you can feel strong and stable for years to come.
Great for Socialising
Whether you’re new to yoga or have been doing it for years, it can be intimidating to go to a class. You might feel like the only person in the room who isn’t flexible or ‘good enough’. Don’t worry. There are plenty of benefits to getting out of your comfort zone and participating in group activities.
Making friends is also good for your health! Not only will you have shared interests – chair yoga and a desire to keep fit – but you can also work together to support and encourage each other.
Chair yoga movements are easier than standard yoga poses because they’re adapted for people with limited mobility due to age or injury. The low-impact exercises are easy on your body, so you recover faster than when you work out on the floor or mat.
Try one of the following:
- Overhead stretch
- Neck stretch
- Seated forward bend
- Eagle arms
- Chair spinal twist
These are just some of the many benefits of chair yoga you can enjoy for yourself. Have fun and regain your flexibility and independence!
Australian Over 50s Living & Lifestyle Guide