If you want to keep fit and live an active lifestyle, you'll probably be considering what kind of exercises you need to perform. Running, lifting weights and playing with the grandkids certainly break a sweat, but these vigorous activities can be hard on old bones and muscles. The type of exercise that seniors need, rheumatologist Nathan Wei, MD, told AgingCare.com, is low-impact cardio, stretching and resistance training. 

One type of exercise in particular can cover all three of these points if done correctly. Yoga has been practised for generations, and offers a relaxing way to stretch the body and tone the muscles. 

Physical benefits of yoga

A good yoga program has numerous physical benefits to help build your strength and let you age in place more gracefully. For starters, it offers regular weight training as you support your own body weight in certain positions. Slowly your muscles will build strength, allowing you to access even more positions and train even further. This is all without the addition of extra weights that lifting involves, which can reduce potential injury.

There are also studies that show that there are yoga benefits to assist with arthritis and hand strength, increase the flexibility of your muscles, and decrease any blood pressure, bone density and breathing problems, according to the American Senior Fitness Association. 

Mental benefits of yoga

Alongside being physically helpful, yoga is also good for your mental health. Though more research is needed into the subject, current studies that have already been conducted show the potential benefits of a good yoga program. For example, according to the Harvard Medical School, a German study showed that practising regular yoga helped improve stress, anxiety and overall well-being by as much as 65 per cent. The women who took part in the test also saw improvements to their headaches, sleeping trouble and back pain. 

As you practise, you can also build confidence in yourself. Regularly performing yoga poses to do with balance can help you feel more aware of what your body is capable of so you don't have to be nervous about falling. The longer you practise, the better the chance you will even improve your balance – releasing you to be more active both around the home and outside.

Yoga could be a helpful way to train your body as you age, however, choosing the right program is essential. Some may push you too far, so consider a more relaxed training regime with an instructor who understands elderly needs.

How much can yoga benefit senior health?