Gentle Exercises of Tai Chi and Yoga Improves Overall Fitness in Older People

Tai Chi and Yoga: beneficial exercises for older people

When you think of exercise, do you immediately think of being sweaty and out of breath? Do you think of heavy weights, high impact aerobic moves, and/or clunky exercise machines? Exercising doesn’t always have to be high energy, exhausting, or painful. For older people, gentle, low-impact exercises found in Tai Chi and in yoga will help improve overall fitness.

Tai chi and yoga combine strength training, stability, aerobic exercise, and flexibility/balance for all ages—even those who are confined to a wheelchair. The results are impressive. In a University of Illinois study of seniors with an average age of 80, positive improvements came within 6 months. Improvements were found in balance, energy levels, flexibility, and sleep. Other studies have shown benefits such as a reduction in chronic pain, reduced stress and blood pressure, and fewer falls.

Tai Chi

Tai chi is an ancient form of exercise originating in China. Its slow movements are gentle, graceful, and fluid. These low-impact movements help reduce stress and improve one’s ability to relax. It exercises all major muscle groups and joints and is a weight bearing exercise that helps strengthen bones and slow bone loss. As an added benefit: no special equipment required!

Yoga

Yoga originated in India thousands of years ago. It helps increase brain function, lowers stress levels, increases flexibility, improves balance, produces stronger bones, among other health benefits. Yoga is low-impact and doesn’t cause pain.

To find a class for yourself or for an elder in your care, check your local senior center, health club, or community college for offerings in central New Jersey.

Note: please consult with your doctor before starting any new exercise routine.