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With slight variations, yoga is an ideal exercise for seniors

May 3, 2013

Exercise is a staple of healthy senior living, and today's retirees are turning to a wide variety of activities that extend well beyond the golf course. Alternative exercises have become particularly popular, and that is especially the case when it comes to yoga. Though many people might assume that yoga is only a hit among younger generations, classes designed specifically for the over-50 crowd have been springing up across the country, The New York Times reports.

While most experts say that yoga is safe for seniors - even if they have conditions such as osteoporosis or arthritis - the key is modifying the practice a bit. For instance, if you have to use a chair to balance yourself during one-legged poses, you can still enjoy the improvements to strength, balance and flexibility that result. Although some seniors may be concerned about being less able to exercise as they age, activities such as yoga may help alleviate some of these concerns. 

"I think the average person probably does get stiffer as they age," Roger Cole, a yoga teacher and psychologist told the Times. "But I believe that it's mainly because they stop doing the things that keep them flexible."

Changing up the poses is not the only thing you need to consider when practicing yoga later in life, experts say. You also need to pay more attention to the signals your body is sending you - if something is painful, you should stop. 

There is substantial scientific evidence avowing the positive impact yoga can have on healthy aging. A recent study from Johns Hopkins University found that sedentary adults with rheumatoid arthritis who participated in an eight-week yoga program were less likely to have tender and swollen joints.