The practice of Yoga is an excellent way to improve overall health in older adults. Yoga safely stretches and loosens muscles, reduces anxiety, helps to lower blood pressure, protects joints, and builds strength and balance. Chair Yoga is especially beneficial as it reduces the strain on joints and allows those with mobility concerns the opportunity to participate.
According to a study in the National Library of Medicine, yoga therapy increases the number of insulin receptors. It improves insulin kinetics by reducing fasting insulin levels and normalizing the insulin-to-glucose ratio. Yoga also prevents the development of diabetes in high-risk individuals and was found to improve symptom scores in people with diabetes.
Yoga routines are easily adaptable according to your older adult’s abilities. Some older adults/seniors may tire easily or have difficulty with mobility, therefore customizing the Yoga routine is vital to ensure their safety and well-being. Anywhere from 5-minute to 30-minute routines are easily accessible on YouTube, but here are some beginner movements that you can try.
Please note: None of these movements should hurt. If any discomfort occurs, stop the movement and return to regular breathing. Older adults/seniors should be following the movements of another adult in order to show proper form and technique.
Please consult with a physician before performing any exercise or pose or starting any exercise program.
Chair Yoga Routine for Seniors
1. Seated Mountain Pose.
Begin with simple breathing exercises. Sit up tall in your chair, with hands in prayer pose (optional), and begin inhaling and exhaling in a slow controlled manner. Repeat 5 times
2. Chair Neck Roll #1.
This movement Is used to stretch the front and back of your neck. While seated, slowly drop chin to chest, breathing in and out with each movement. Return your chin back to the neutral starting position. Next, slowly raise your chin so that the head gently falls back and then return to a neutral position. Repeat 3 times for each.
3. Chair Neck Roll #2.
This movement is used to stretch the sides of your neck. While seated, slowly lean your right ear to your right shoulder, breathing in and out with each movement. Return to the neutral starting position. Next, gently lean the left ear to the left shoulder and return to neutral. Repeat 3 times on each side.
4. Chair Neck Roll #3.
This movement continues stretching neck muscles. While seated, gently turn your head to the right, looking over your shoulder, while inhaling and exhaling. Return to the center. Next, gently turn your head to the left, overlooking your left shoulder. Return to the center and repeat 2 more times on each side.
5. Chair Arm Circles.
This movement stretches the upper arms and shoulders. While seated, bring your hands up and place them on each shoulder. Breathing deeply, slowly move arms up and down and around in small circles. Repeat 3 times
6. Seated Side Stretch.
This movement stretches muscles in the arms and shoulder, chest, upper back, and neck. While seated, raise your right arm straight above you and gently lean your upper body to the left. Return to the neutral position bringing the arm back down. Next, bring your left arm straight above you and gently lean your upper body to the right. Return to neutral and repeat 3 times on each side.
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