Yoga is an excellent exercise for older adults because it is low-impact but carries a long list of health benefits. New research from the University of California Los Angeles has revealed that integrating yoga sessions into everyday life may also be instrumental in alleviating some of the emotional and cognitive affects brought on by Alzheimer's.
New research from UCLA suggests that yoga may minimize the early effects of Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia. For older adults, yoga may be a critical tool in promoting better health and mitigating the negative symptoms related to Alzheimer's.
Managing Cognitive Impairment
According to the UCLA researchers, seniors that entered into a yoga and mediation course for three months saw improved outcomes related to the early stages of Alzheimer's and other types of dementia. Participants saw minimal cognitive and emotional impairment, and yoga proved to be more effective than traditional memory exercises. Helen Lavretsky, professor in residence at UCLA's Department of Psychiatry and senior author of the study explained the outcomes.
"Memory training was comparable to yoga with meditation in terms of improving memory, but yoga provided a broader benefit than memory training because it also helped with mood, anxiety and coping skills," said Lavretsky.
There were 25 total participants in the study, all of whom were over the age of 55. Of that group, 11 participated in memory enhancement training and exercise that is often used for those exhibiting mental decline. The other individuals took a one-hour yoga course once a week and spent 20 minutes each day doing mediation at home. Lavretsky explained that the type of meditation - known as Kirtan Kriya - has been practiced in India for centuries as a remedy for cognitive issues in older adults.
The individuals that engaged in yoga saw improvements in mental ability and memory, as well as in anxiety and depression. Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia pose emotional challenges as well as functional issues. UCLA report stated that while using a functional magnetic resonance imaging machine, the researchers were able to see physical changes in brain connectivity, and that those who did yoga and mediation had more significant improvements.
Adding Yoga Into Your Routine
Everyday Health stated that outside of cognitive improvement, there are a number of health benefits yoga can offer older adults. Yoga promotes flexibility and can be an important remedy for anyone living with chronic back pain. It may also aid in good cardiovascular health, which is essential for anyone worried about heart disease or stroke. Yoga is also effective for treating fatigue and insomnia, as well as arthritis.
With so many health benefits available to seniors through one simple, low-impact exercise, finding ways to practice yoga is a fantastic pursuit. Many local community organizations host yoga classes and sessions, and there are also new yoga studios opening up across the country.
Just outside of Columbus, Ohio, Sunrise of Dublin offers a yoga program every Thursday, taught by yogi instructor Sarah Sutton. She leads our seniors in a series of stretching, balancing and chair yoga exercises for an hour. Our residents say they leave feeling refreshed and more centered, proving that it's a great activity for the body, but even better for the mind!
"The peace that yoga brings our Dublin, OH, residents is a joy to watch," says April L'Abbe, Activity and Volunteer Coordinator at Sunrise of Dublin.
Source: Sunrise Senior Living