Why Yoga Is a Great Low-Intensity Exercise for All Ages
It’s no secret that yoga is a great exercise for the mind and body, but did you know it might even help you figuratively reverse the clock? One of the more subtle health benefits of yoga is its ability to help prevent or even reverse aging.
In life, and especially during a pandemic and challenging economic turmoil, it can often feel like time is slipping away or that there are not enough hours in the day. However, consistently practicing yoga can reinforce principles and practices that help you de-stress, unwind, and reverse the clock both physically and mentally.
Not only are there anti-aging health benefits of yoga, but this exercise provides a variety of other benefits to your well-being, including:
- Increased Flexibility
- Weight Reduction
- Maintaining a Balanced Metabolism
- Improved Respiration, Vitality, and Energy
- Cardio and Circulatory Health
- Increased Muscle Strength and Tone
- Potentially Improved Athletic Performance
How Yoga Slows the Effects of Cellular Aging
Two studies conducted in 2017 found that doing yoga regularly can slow physical aging as well as the harmful effects of stress at the cellular and DNA level. Health conditions such as depression, heart disease, and infertility are associated with accelerated cellular aging. Considering the main markers of cellular aging in the body are oxidative stress and DNA damage, any activity that de-stresses the mind and body is significantly beneficial.
Yoga Eases Away Wrinkles in a Natural Way
On a more visual and cosmetic level, through yoga’s meditation-like stances and calming atmosphere, it can help you relax your facial muscles to ease away wrinkles in a natural way. For example, by focusing on your breathing techniques during yoga, you naturally unclench your jaw and unfurrow your brow. Yoga can also help enhance the glow of your skin by reducing oxidative stress that negatively affects your skin’s elasticity.
Yoga and Meditation Increases Anti-Aging Hormones
One of the most important postures in yoga is meditation. The American Board of Anti-Aging Medicine found that regular meditation significantly affects the production of DHEA (known as the anti-aging hormone) and melatonin. As you age, your body produces less and less DHEA. When you practice yoga consistently, you are naturally providing your body with more DHEA as well as buffer your body from the stress-inducing hormone known as cortisol.
As for melatonin, this hormone is what helps us achieve a longer and higher quality of sleep. The increase in melatonin due to yoga’s meditation practices can lead to more tranquil sleep at night and increased well-being during the day.
Yoga Encourages Your Body to Retain Muscle Mass
As you age, muscle mass is lost naturally, however, consistent yoga practice can help reverse the deterioration of muscles over time. NAMASTE (Novel Approaches to Maintaining Muscle Mass and Strength) conducted a study on two groups of women over the age of 50. The first group did not exercise in at least a year while the second group practiced yoga twice a week for more than a year. After evaluating the two groups, the study found that the yoga group had more efficient muscle mass maintenance than the other group.
Yoga Improves Balance, Flexibility, and Agility
Another health benefit of yoga is its ability to improve your flexibility, balance, and agility. The ability to balance is a skill that involves your body and brain and, when practiced, you naturally improve your coordination and agility. This, in turn, can help prevent fewer falls and reduce body aches, pains, and stiffness within your body, making you feel younger and healthier.
Consider a simple task such as getting up out of a cushioned chair or picking up something that fell on the floor. Is this experience typically a painful one? Do you hear some “creaks” in your bones when you bend over or turn at certain angles, especially toward the end of the day? Through specific yoga poses, you are teaching your body to lengthen your spine and create space between each vertebra. With this practice, you are also improving nerve conduction to your organs.
Keep Consistent With Regular Yoga Practice
While there are many health benefits of yoga, it’s important to keep in mind that the benefits cannot be achieved overnight or with sporadic exercises. To achieve the full anti-aging benefits of yoga, you will need to consistently and regularly practice at least three times per week. Additionally, while this is a low-intensity exercise and suitable for all ages, it’s important to check in with your primary care doctor before beginning any new physical activity regime.