The Benefits of Outdoor Yoga Practice for Seniors

It’s no secret that it is important to stay active, both physically and mentally, as you age. But did you know that combining exercise with being outside can be even more beneficial than exercise alone?

One way the Trillium Woods health & wellness team is focusing on combining these two elements is by encouraging residents to try participating in an outdoor yoga class.
Read on to learn more about the benefits of being outside and practicing yoga as you age.

Yoga Practice

There is a common misperception that one must be flexible to try yoga. In fact, flexibility is not a prerequisite… that is like saying one must be clean to take a shower! Flexibility improves with time as yoga participants become more accustomed to new poses and listen to their bodies.

Yoga is known for its calming effects and its non-competitive nature, which makes it an excellent way for older adults to improve their balance, flexibility, and stabilization, among other things, including the following:

    • There is a growing body of research that supports the role of regular yoga practice in the reduction of heart disease risk factors.
    • Many don’t consider yoga a form of movement that facilitates weight loss; however, a 2016 study showed that a group of individuals who practiced yoga had significant reductions in body weight, body fat and BMI compared to the control group, which did not practice yoga (Cramer, et al, 2016).
    • A second set of findings concluded that yoga practice can reduce resting blood pressure and pulse (Devasena & Narhare, 2010).
    • Yoga is even associated with a reduction in total cholesterol. A twelve-week study in 2016 revealed an association between yoga and a 6 percent reduction in total cholesterol.

seniors in a yoga class outside

Outdoor Exercise

The National Institute on Aging reports that regular physical activity can actually help delay or even prevent some chronic age-related conditions like heart disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, stroke, and more. When your body is strong and healthy, it can better fight off infection and recover from an illness or injury.
Furthermore, exercising outdoors – such as walking outside or an outdoor yoga class — has the added benefits of:

      • Increased endorphins release (a feel-good chemical in your brain) to uplift your mood and decrease depression. It also is known to decrease your blood pressure naturally.
      • Being out in the sunlight raises the production of Vitamin D, also known as the “Sunshine Vitamin.” Just don’t forget your sunscreen!
      • Being outdoors challenges your body in ways that working out indoors does not. Uneven surfaces and weather-related conditions can lead to using different muscle groups. This can lead to increased strength and balance that will help prevent falls.
      • There is a powerful link between being physically fit and decreasing your risk factors for cognitive decline. One study by Michigan State University even found that a group of seniors who were given a list of items to remember and then took a walk outdoors did better at remembering than a group that walked indoors. In short — being outdoors can boost your short-term memory!

Don’t just take our word for it, though. Come experience the benefits of yoga and exercising outside for yourself! This summer, Trillium Woods will be hosting a free outdoor gentle yoga class every Wednesday at 10:15 a.m. from June 5 to July 10. All ages and skill levels are welcome to participate; please bring your own yoga mat or beach towel. Those who would like to join the class can RSVP by calling (763) 553-7600 or sign up online here.