Chair Yoga Helps Improve Balance and Reduce the Risk of Falls
Medicare Benefits Solutions
Oct 19, 2021
Chair yoga is a general fitness program perfect for active adults and anyone with balance or mobility issues. This adaptive form of yoga uses a chair for added support and lets you, your friends, and your neighbors join in on the fun.
The National Institutes of Health disclosed that among people 65 and older, about 30% reported they fell during the past year. When it comes to medical expenses, “Approximately 6% of Medicare expenditures and 8% of Medicaid expenditures were attributable to falls.”
TIP: Find out if your current plan covers YMCA or gym membership.
Risk of Falls
People over 65 who fall are at increased risk of serious injuries, such as a broken hip, that can affect mobility and limit independence. A recent study showed the risk of falls gets reduced by up to 35% among older adults who exercise.
The research focused on practicing yoga to help:
- Improve the ability to rise from a chair
- Increase step length
- Reduce the fear of falling
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Top Benefits of Yoga for Adults
Yoga is a good all-around exercise to strengthen abdominal muscles and support your core for a noticeable change in posture and body alignment. With regular exercise, you should also see a significant improvement in balance, flexibility, and stability.
Top health benefits of yoga for those over 65:
- Strengthens muscles
- Improves coordination
- Alleviates general aches and pains
- Maintains mental clarity
- Reduces anxiety and stress
- Helps you sleep better
- Enhances circulation
- Reduces blood pressure
- Improves digestion
Another reason to consider incorporating a fitness program into your schedule is that many people living alone or in remote rural areas are at risk of self-isolation. Discovering group activities that you can enjoy with peers is a great way for you to socialize, meet new friends, and improve your overall health and wellness.
TIP: Read our companion article on the Top 5 Popular Exercise Programs for Active Older Adults.
Chair Yoga Workout for Beginners
Yoga is a great mind-body exercise that helps keep you mentally fit while you work on staying physically active. Chair yoga is a great slow and gentle workout solution for older adults.
Chair yoga poses, or asanas, are simply standard yoga poses modified for use with a chair. The chair provides added support and stability and helps reduce the risk of falls for anyone dealing with balance issues.
With slight modifications, all the asanas can be performed either while standing behind a chair or seated in a chair. Seated poses are best for beginners to help improve strength and flexibility while standing poses are more advanced and help improve balance and coordination.
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Here are some basic chair yoga poses for active adults and absolute beginners with limited mobility or other physical limitations.
Basic Chair Yoga Poses for Active Adults
If you are new to yoga the recommendation is to take a few classes for beginners to learn the correct positioning of basic chair yoga poses. Look for a class that starts with a gentle warm-up, instructs you through various asanas, and ends with a cool-down session.
Workout Tip: always consult with your healthcare provider before starting any new exercise program.
Basic seated chair yoga poses include:
- Overhead stretch
- Eagle arms
- Assisted neck stretches
- Side twists
- Single-leg stretch
- Forward bend
Ask your yoga instructor for help if you are finding some poses more difficult than others. Most gyms and fitness studios have yoga mats, yoga blocks, and yoga straps available for their students to use.
Find Yoga Near Me
Check online to search for groups near you hosting yoga classes and other athletic events. Many fitness-focused MeetUp groups offer beach yoga, yoga in the park, or paddleboard yoga.
Other top resources for locating chair yoga programs for healthy aging include:
- YMCA and gyms
- Assisted living centers
- Yoga and fitness studios
- Recreation facilities
- Community parks
If group fitness classes aren’t your thing, there are many yoga videos online that let you practice virtual chair yoga from the comfort of your own home. While YMCA and gym memberships aren’t covered through Original Medicare insurance, certain Medicare Supplement or Medicare Advantage plans may offer benefits such as the Silver Sneakers program.
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