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Yoga Benefits for Men and Women Over 40 (And How to Get Started Now)

Yoga Benefits for Men and Women Over 40 (And How to Get Started Now)

It’s never too late. Whether you’ve hit middle age or your golden years, the benefits of exercise are profound.

But as we age, not all exercises offer the same benefits. High impact training like weightlifting and running can hurt our joints. The challenge then becomes to find an activity that we enjoy and that can improve our overall health, with minimal risk.

Yoga offers just such an opportunity. More and more research has shown that yoga is an excellent total body exercise for your body and your mind.

In this article, I’m going to quickly show you the yoga benefits, whether you’re in your 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s or 80’s. Then we’re going to show you how you can get started quickly and easily.

Amazing yoga benefits for men and women over 40

Here I’ll cover 6 benefits of practicing yoga:

1. Yoga improves strength

You don’t often associate Yoga with strength training. But you don’t have to look like a Mr. Olympia, nor do you have to train like one, to get the benefits of strength training.

Yoga uses many weight bearing exercises[1] like the plank, eagle (single legged squat) and the warrior pose which can create a burn with the best of them and improve muscles in your legs, core and shoulders for a great, low impact, total body workout. In fact, two of the five best exercises recommended for strength and balance are yoga poses![2]

2. Yoga increases flexibility

As we age, our muscles and joints get tighter and less flexible. We don’t need a scientific study to prove it. Just trying to tie our show laces, scratch our back or put on our socks is research enough.

Yoga offers a series of stretches for our legs, hips, shoulders, hands and back that have proven to improve muscle flexibility and joint range of movement. In fact, yoga has even been shown to reduce the pain associated with osteoarthritis.[3]

3. Yoga benefits balance

Whether it’s biking, gardening or hiking, maintaining balance is critical to being able to continue doing the activities we loved to do safely well into our adult life. It also helps us avoid dangerous falls.

Try a one legged tree pose, or a headstand and you’ll get a sense for how good yoga is for your balance.

4. Yoga is good for your heart

Studies show that yoga can possibly lower your heart rate, eases palpitations, improves symptoms of heart failure, improves blood pressure and lowers hypertension when you combine postures, breathing and meditation in your yoga practice.[4]

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Yoga is shown to have similar benefits as brisk walking or other similar cardio exercises.

5. Yoga is good for your bones

People in their 50’s and beyond face the challenge of lower bone density, which could, if left unchallenged lead to osteoporosis. The weight bearing nature of yoga exercise has consistently proven to benefit bone density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis in those over 50 years old – especially women. In fact, one study showed that doing just 12 minutes of yoga a day can reverse osteoporotic bone loss.[5]

6. Yoga reduces anxiety and sharpens the mind

Yoga was traditionally done as a preparatory exercise for meditation. It’s emphasis on breathing and focus on the task at hand have been proven to have benefits for the mind.[6]

Yoga has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, depression, improve sleep, and enhance overall well-being. Give savasana a try and you’ll instantly see what I’m talking about:

How to get started

Starting yoga is easy! Nearly 10% of Americans, of all ages, currently do yoga, so you’re not alone.

I’d recommend you start out by taking a beginners yoga class with a qualified instructor. This will give you the opportunity to learn how to do each yoga pose with proper form, which is essential to get the maximum benefit from each pose and to avoid injury.

You should also take a yoga class that includes the full gamut of techniques like poses, breathing and meditation. Doing so will ensure that you maximize the physical, cardiovascular and mental benefits of yoga.

If you have any preexisting conditions like a sore back, arthritis, torn rotator cuff, ACL or MCL sprains etc, it’s important to tell your instructor in advance. A good instructor will be able to amend poses for you to avoid unnecessary or dangerous strain to affected areas that might aggravate your injury.

Where to do yoga

Yoga classes are available almost everywhere, from your local health clubs and gyms to YMCA’s, community and senior centers. You can also find stand alone yoga studio’s.

Sessions cost anywhere from $15-$20 at yoga studios. You might want to buy individual sessions at first to see if you like your instructor before committing to multiple sessions to get a volume discount.

If you’d prefer to be in a private setting, you can also get a private instructor to come to your house.

What type of yoga is best for you?

There are several types of yoga to choose from. We’d definitely recommend you do a yoga practice that includes poses, breathing and meditation, as opposed to a fitness session that includes some yoga poses.

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Hatha Yoga

    Best for beginners because of slow pace and introduction to basic techniques.

    Hatha yoga simply refers to all styles of yoga that are grounded in physical practice. A Hatha class generally teaches the basic physical poses. Hatha yoga classes are good if you’re starting out because they offer a classic approach to breathing and poses and typically go at a slower pace than some of the other styles. If a class calls itself hatha, it’s generally intended for beginners.[7]

    Bikram Yoga

      Best for beginners, people who want a sweat or those who like a set routine because of Bikram’s predictable routine.

      Bikram yoga is hot! The yoga studio is set to 105 degrees with 40 percent humidity.

      Invented by Bikram Choudhury about 30 years ago, Bikram yoga includes a series of 26 poses, with each one done twice per session. The heat is supposed to increase flexibility and suppleness.

      Bikram is one of the most popular types of yoga around, so its pretty easy to find. Just make sure you can stand the heat and stay hydrated!

      Ashtanga Yoga

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        Best for those looking for a more rigorous workout and a predictable routine and sequence of exercises.

        Ashtanga is rooted on ancient yoga. It’s a more defined and difficult style of yoga that has a set sequences of poses, where each movement is tied to a breath.[8]

        Ashtanga always performs the same poses, in the exact same sequence. It was popularized in the West by K. Pattabhi Jois in the 1970’s.

        Vinyasa Yoga

          Best for those looking for a high intensity workout because of its faster pace, of flowing from one movement into another.

          Vinyasa is a very fluid style of yoga, and probably the most athletic.[9]

          A variation of Ashtanga, Vinyasa coordinates movement with breath and you typically flow from one movement into the next, not staying n one pose for very long. It’s different from Ashtanga, in that there is no set sequence of movements.

          Iyengar Yoga

            Best for those with injuries and those obsessed with form and getting their poses right.

            Iyengar yoga is not afraid to use props, blocks, straps, walls and blankets to help you hit the perfect form with precision detail. The biggest difference between Iyengar and Vinyasa is that while there is no set sequence, each pose is held for a set period of time.[10]

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            Yoga equipment

            One of the great things about yoga is that you actually don’t need any equipment or special clothing.

            All you need are clothes that are either loose fitting or stretchy enough to allow you to do any of the poses without restriction.

            You may want a mat of your own eventually, but if you’re just getting started, often times studios provide one for you. Straps and pillows, if used, are also typically provided by studios.

            Yoga frequency

            If you’re just starting out, some yoga instructors suggest doing it everyday for 10-25 minutes, so that you can start to train your muscle memory for each yoga pose.

            That might mean you got to 1-2 classes per week, to make sure your getting good instruction on how to perform each pose properly, but then doing 10-25 minutes a day at home when you’re not going to the yoga class.

            As referenced earlier in this article, one study showed that doing just 12 minutes of yoga a day can reverse the effects of bone density loss.

            Then again, many instructors will tell you that doing just 1 class a week will have benefits to your health and state of mind.

            Summing it up

            Yoga is one of the fastest growing activities in the United States, with people of all ages enjoying its benefits to the health of your body and mind.

            A relatively low impact exercise, regularly practicing yoga, even for short periods of time, will improve your strength, balance, flexibility, cardiovascular health and your mind.

            With so much to gain and so little to lose, give it a try and see how it makes you feel!

            Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

            Reference

            More by this author

            Marc Felgar

            Marc Felgar is an aging, health & senior care expert focused on improving the lives of mature adults.

            7 Natural Memory Boosters That Actually Work for All Ages 9 Myths About the Aging Process You Can Definitely Ignore How to Help Nausea Go Away Fast with These 5 Fixes Exercise for Seniors: How to Improve Strength and Balance (And Stay Fit) The Best Way to Sleep to Relieve the 7 Most Common Ailments

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            Last Updated on March 25, 2020

            How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

            How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

            When it comes to living long, genes aren’t everything. Research has revealed a number of simple lifestyle changes you can make that could help to extend your life, and some of them may surprise you.

            So, how to live longer? Here are 21 ways to help you live a long life

            1. Exercise

            It’s no secret that physical activity is good for you. Exercise helps you maintain a healthy body weight and lowers your blood pressure, both of which contribute to heart health and a reduced risk of heart disease–the top worldwide cause of death.

            2. Drink in Moderation

            I know you’re probably picturing a glass of red wine right now, but recent research suggests that indulging in one to three glasses of any type of alcohol every day may help to increase longevity.[1] Studies have found that heavy drinkers as well as abstainers seem to have a higher risk of early mortality than moderate drinkers.

            3. Reduce Stress in Your Life

            Stress causes your body to release a hormone called cortisol. At high levels, this hormone can increase blood pressure and cause storage of abdominal fat, both of which can lead to an increased risk of heart disease.

            4. Watch Less Television

            A 2008 study found that people who watch six hours of television per day will likely die an average of 4.8 years earlier than those who don’t.[2] It also found that, after the age of 25, every hour of television watched decreases life expectancy by 22 minutes.

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            Television promotes inactivity and disengagement from the world, both of which can shorten your lifespan.

            5. Eat Less Red Meat

            Red meat consumption is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and cancer.[3] Swapping out your steaks for healthy proteins, like fish, may help to increase longevity.

            If you can’t stand the idea of a steak-free life, reducing your consumption to less than two to three servings a week can still incur health benefits.

            6. Don’t Smoke

            This isn’t exactly a revelation. As you probably well know, smoking significantly increases your risk of cancer.

            7. Socialize

            Studies suggest that having social relationships promotes longevity.[4] Although scientists are unsure of the reasons behind this, they speculate that socializing leads to increased self esteem as well as peer pressure to maintain health.

            8. Eat Foods Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

            Omega-3 fatty acids decrease the risk of heart disease[5] and perhaps even Alzheimer’s disease.[6] Salmon and walnuts are two of the best sources of Omega-3s.

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            9. Be Optimistic

            Studies suggest that optimists are at a lower risk for heart disease and, generally, live longer than pessimists.[7] Researchers speculate that optimists have a healthier approach to life in general–exercising more, socializing, and actively seeking out medical advice. Thus, their risk of early mortality is lower.

            10. Own a Pet

            Having a furry-friend leads to decreased stress, increased immunity, and a lessened risk of heart disease.[8] Depending on the type of pet, they can also motivate you to be more active.

            11. Drink Coffee

            Studies have found a link between coffee consumption and longer life.[9] Although the reasons for this aren’t entirely clear, coffee’s high levels of antioxidants may play a role. Remember, though, drowning your cup of joe in sugar and whipped cream could counter whatever health benefits it may hold.

            12. Eat Less

            Japan has the longest average lifespan in the world, and the longest lived of the Japanese–the natives of the Ryukyu Islands–stop eating when they’re 80% full. Limiting your calorie intake means lower overall stress on the body.

            13. Meditate

            Meditation leads to stress reduction and lowered blood pressure.[10] Research suggests that it could also increase the activity of an enzyme associated with longevity.[11]

            Taking as little as 15 minutes a day to find your zen can have significant health benefits, and may even extend your life.

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            How to meditate? Here’re 8 Meditation Techniques for Complete Beginners

            14. Maintain a Healthy Weight

            Being overweight puts stress on your cardiovascular system, increasing your risk of heart disease.[12] It may also increase the risk of cancer.[13] Maintaining a healthy weight is important for heart health and living a long and healthy life.

            15. Laugh Often

            Laughter reduces the levels of stress hormones, like cortisol, in your body. High levels of these hormones can weaken your immune system.

            16. Don’t Spend Too Much Time in the Sun

            Too much time in the sun can lead to an increased risk of skin cancer. However, sun exposure is an excellent way to increase levels of vitamin D, so soaking up a few rays–perhaps for around 15 minutes a day–can be healthy. The key is moderation.

            17. Cook Your Own Food

            When you eat at restaurants, you surrender control over your diet. Even salads tend to have a large number of additives, from sugar to saturated fats. Eating at home will enable you to monitor your food intake and ensure a healthy diet.

            Take a look at these 14 Healthy Easy Recipes for People on the Go and start to cook your own food.

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            18. Eat Mushrooms

            Mushrooms are a central ingredient in Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s GOMBS disease fighting diet. They boost the immune system and may even reduce the risk of cancer.[14]

            19. Floss

            Flossing helps to stave off gum disease, which is linked to an increased risk of cancer.[15]

            20. Eat Foods Rich in Antioxidants

            Antioxidants fight against the harmful effects of free-radicals, toxins which can cause cell damage and an increased risk of disease when they accumulate in the body. Berries, green tea and broccoli are three excellent sources of antioxidants.

            Find out more antiosidants-rich foods here: 13 Delicious Antioxidant Foods That Are Great for Your Health

            21. Have Sex

            Getting down and dirty two to three times a week can have significant health benefits. Sex burns calories, decreases stress, improves sleep, and may even protect against heart disease.[16] It’s an easy and effective way to get exercise–so love long and prosper!

            More Health Tips

            Featured photo credit: Sweethearts/Patrick via flickr.com

            Reference

            [1] Wiley Online Library: Late‐Life Alcohol Consumption and 20‐Year Mortality
            [2] BMJ Journals: Television viewing time and reduced life expectancy: a life table analysis
            [3] Arch Intern Med.: Red Meat Consumption and Mortality
            [4] PLOS Medicine: Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review
            [5] JAMA: Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acid Intake and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in Women
            [6] NCBI: Effects of Omega‐3 Fatty Acids on Cognitive Function with Aging, Dementia, and Neurological Diseases: Summary
            [7] Mayo Clinic Proc: Prediction of all-cause mortality by the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory Optimism-Pessimism Scale scores: study of a college sample during a 40-year follow-up period.
            [8] Med Hypotheses.: Pet ownership protects against the risks and consequences of coronary heart disease.
            [9] The New England Journal of Medicine: Association of Coffee Drinking with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality
            [10] American Journal of Hypertension: Blood Pressure Response to Transcendental Meditation: A Meta-analysis
            [11] Science Direct: Intensive meditation training, immune cell telomerase activity, and psychological mediators
            [12] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
            [13] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
            [14] African Journal of Biotechnology: Anti-cancer effect of polysaccharides isolated from higher basidiomycetes mushrooms
            [15] Science Direct: Periodontal disease, tooth loss, and cancer risk in male health professionals: a prospective cohort study
            [16] AHA Journals: Sexual Activity and Cardiovascular Disease

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