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Chair Yoga for Women Over 50: Tips and Moves to Get Started

As we age, our bodies gradually undergo changes that cannot be reversed. But there are ways to tackle these and ensure that our transition to older ages is as smooth as possible. Exercise is one of the strategies that can help people to stay active and healthy. Women over 50, looking for ways to reduce the impacts of aging, should curate an exercise plan that fits their needs.

For some women over 50 with joint pain, stiffness, or limited mobility, traditional workouts may seem daunting or inaccessible. This is where chair yoga comes in, offering a gentle yet effective fitness approach ideally suited for mature bodies. Unlike mat-based yoga, chair yoga adapts classic poses to be performed while seated or using a chair for support. This variation makes it a safe and accessible option for women of all fitness levels, including those with physical limitations or injuries.

This article provides in-depth details about chair yoga for women over 50 and tips on how it can help you get in shape.

Does Chair Yoga Really Work for Seniors?

Chair yoga is considered a helpful solution for physical and even mental conditions. It is pretty understandable how some older people might have trouble moving around as easily as they could when they were younger. Chair yoga allows them to activate their muscles and improve their mobility. Creating and following a chair yoga routine can bring the following perks for seniors:

It Can Increase Your Flexibility

Flexibility is essential to perform many daily tasks. Practitioners of chair yoga push their bodies to retain and increase their flexibility through the incorporation of various movement patterns and poses (3). It is understandable if you find that performing some of these poses challenging. Starting with beginner chair yoga for women over 50 could give you the kickstart you need.

It Can Improve Balance and Strength

Proprioception is your body’s ability to understand where all of its parts are without having to look. Chair yoga helps improve proprioception by moving fluidly from one pose to the next, making you more aware of your body’s position and movements.

A study with a small group of older women showed that doing chair yoga for 12 weeks strengthened their hands, arms, and legs (8). They also showed improved static and dynamic balance, agility, and overall well-being. While these results are promising, more research is needed to confirm these findings.

 

It Helps Deal with Arthritis

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis, affecting more than 26 million adults. This condition is prevalent in older adults, with over a third of the people aged 65 and older experiencing it in one or more joints.

A recent study of 85 Taiwanese women with knee osteoarthritis found that regularly doing chair yoga helped them to move and function better in their daily lives (6). This suggests that chair yoga might be a good option for people with joint problems.

It Helps Manage Sleep and Pain

Chair yoga can be a game changer for women facing sleep troubles (4). The flowing movements and mindful breathing set the course for a cozy sleep that can reduce the jitters that keep people up. Not only this, but chair yoga can also help to relieve some aches and pains by increasing blood flow to the muscles (1).

Research shows that exercise can help decrease pain because it causes the body to release its natural painkillers (5). Chair yoga is no exception. The gentle movements, deep breaths, and visualization techniques used in chair yoga can be helpful tools for managing pain both during and after practice.

You Can Cope with the Fear of Falls

Fear of falling is quite common in older adults. It has been associated with depression, gait impairments, and functional limitations (9). These yoga poses use breathing and relaxation techniques combined with simple movements that gently tense and then relax different muscle groups.

A small study from 2012 looked at older adults with an average age of 88. It found that doing chair yoga regularly for 8 weeks might help them move better and be less afraid of falling without any negative side effects (10). However, the study had only a few participants, so more research is needed to strengthen these results.

It May Reduce Stress

Mindfulness in yoga practices can cultivate positive mental health outcomes among seniors. Research suggests that chair yoga can benefit mental health, helping reduce stress, boost mood, and enhance social connections. A small study found that older adults who participated in ten chair yoga classes over the course of three months experienced notably less stress, a more positive mood, and fewer panic attacks by the conclusion of the study (2).

Chair yoga is an exercise regime that is both fun and rewarding. There is significant evidence that performing yoga regularly can improve the life quality of older adults. A 2023 literature review suggested that chair yoga may be more beneficial than other therapeutic treatments in older adults with lower extremity issues (11)

For some older individuals, attending a gym or enrolling in traditional in-person training may present challenges. Fortunately, a variety of chair yoga exercises and programs are available at no cost via videos, apps, and books. These programs can be tailored to align with the practitioner’s physical capabilities, offering a convenient and adaptable option for maintaining fitness. 

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Is There a Free Chair Yoga App for Seniors?

As previously mentioned, chair yoga represents an exercise modality that is both accessible and effective. Individuals interested in this practice can find a wealth of science-supported exercises online that are straightforward to execute and conducive to achieving fitness goals. 

For those embarking on their chair yoga journey, the BetterMe: Health Coaching app serves as an exemplary resource for learning various routines. This application offers an economical alternative to gym memberships and is particularly advantageous for beginners and older adults, as it allows for workouts to be performed at home without the need for any equipment.

Can You Lose Belly Fat With Chair Yoga?

Chair yoga is a versatile form of exercise that brings multiple rewards. As with any form of exercise, chair yoga can increase caloric expenditure which aids in weight loss by making it easier to be at a caloric deficit at the end of the day. A balanced, caloric deficit diet, paired with other positive lifestyle factors can contribute to weight loss, including the loss of belly fat.

Not knowing where to start is one of the most common roadblocks to any new exercise routine. Here are some beginner-friendly options: 

Chair Plank

This exercise helps to strengthen the core and shoulders. The steps to perform a chair plank are as follows:

  1. Start by placing your hands or forearms on the seat of the chair.
  2. Walk your feet back until your body is straight from head to heels.
  3. Tighten your core muscles to avoid sagging your lower back.
  4. Hold this pose for 10 seconds, breathing steadily throughout.
  5. Gently release the pose and return to the starting position.
  6. Repeat this process five times.

Chair Eagle Pose

This exercise can release tension in the hips and shoulders. This is how to perform the chair eagle pose:

  1. Place your right thigh over your left thigh. If you can, wrap your right foot around your left calf.
  2. Cross your left arm over your right arm at the elbow. Bend your elbows and bring your palms together.
  3. Lift your elbows and lower your shoulders away from your ears. Hold this position for five seconds, taking deep breaths.
  4. Repeat the steps on the other side.

Chair Twisted Seated Pose

This exercise provides a gentle stretch for the rectus abdominis, obliques, and lumbar musculature. You can perform a chair twisted seated pose by following these steps:

  1. Sit up straight with both feet flat on the floor.
  2. Inhale deeply, and as you exhale, gently twist your upper body to the left.
  3. Place your right hand on the outside of your left thigh.
  4. Keep your spine straight and turn your head to look over your left shoulder.
  5. Hold this twist for a few breaths, then slowly release and repeat the process on the right side.
  6. Do this twist on each side for 3 to 5 seconds and repeat the entire sequence 3 times.

Read more: 21 Day Chair Yoga: Reasons To Add This Challenge To Your Routine

Seated Cat-Cow Stretch

This exercise can bring flexibility to your spine and engage the core muscles (15). To perform a seated cat-cow stretch:

  1. Sit up straight with your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Put your hands on your knees.
  3. Inhale, arch your back and look up at the ceiling to create a gentle curve in your spine (the cow position).
  4. Exhale, round your spine, tuck your chin to your chest, and pull your belly button towards your spine (this is the cat position).
  5. Repeat these movements for several breaths, smoothly transitioning between the cow and cat positions.

Chair yoga is a steady and strain-free workout that can be easily modified. For instance, specific routines are available that focus solely on the upper body, making them ideal for individuals seeking targeted muscle engagement. Often, older adults may be reluctant to start a new exercise routine due to challenges such as limited mobility or persistent health issues. However, chair yoga’s modifiable nature makes it an inclusive option for maintaining an active lifestyle. 

 

Can You Get in Shape With Chair Yoga?

Chair yoga is recognized for its gentle impact and suitability for those with joint sensitivities. It serves as a beneficial form of exercise, offering a substantial workout that minimizes the risk of injury. Beyond injury prevention, chair yoga may also contribute to improved strength, balance, and coordination.

A 2021 literature review underscored chair yoga’s beneficial impact on the upper and lower body strength of older adults (11). It’s a natural part of aging for muscles to lose some of their strength, but maintaining as much of it as possible is crucial for performing daily tasks safely and effectively. Chair yoga addresses these needs by enhancing flexibility, balance, and overall strength – key components of health, particularly for seniors. 

Adhering to a regular chair yoga routine that encompasses poses and movements that align with your goals and limitations is a great way to improve your health and functional independence as you age. Consider the following guidelines to tailor a chair yoga regimen that aligns with your fitness aspirations:

  • Practice yoga 3 times per week. If you can do it daily, that is even better!
  • Begin with sessions lasting 15 to 20 minutes. However, as you improve, you may find longer sessions to be even more beneficial.
  • Diversify your routine by incorporating different activities, such as 20 minutes of physical movement coupled with 30 minutes of medication or breathing exercises.

Over time, you can modify the intensity and movements according to how you feel. Remember that you should start with baby steps. Look for a beginner chair yoga program for women over 50 and modify it to meet your goals and abilities. If you have underlying medical conditions, you should consult your doctor before beginning any new exercise program.

Whether you’re looking to simply pep up your fitness routine, jazz up your diet with mouth-watering low-calorie recipes or want to get your act together and significantly drop that number on your scale – BetterMe app has got you covered! Improve your body and revamp your life with us!

 

FAQs

  • How many times a week should you do chair yoga?

There is no rigid rule about how often you should do chair yoga. Beginners can start with 2 or 3 weekly sessions and gradually increase the frequency if desired.

  • Which is better for seniors: Pilates or yoga?

Both Pilates and yoga offer distinct benefits to the seniors. Yoga focuses more on balance and flexibility, while Pilates emphasizes core strength, posture, and overall body awareness. The choice of exercise depends on an individual’s goals and preferences. Trying both and seeing which one you enjoy more is often the best way to decide.

  • Is chair yoga as good as yoga?

While traditional yoga offers a broader range of poses and deeper stretches, chair yoga provides a modified practice that is accessible and safe for people with limited mobility, injuries, or health conditions. At the end of the day, the best option depends on what you want to achieve with your workout plans. If you are a senior with mobility issues, you may opt for chair yoga and transition to traditional yoga as you get stronger.

  • Can you lose weight doing chair yoga for seniors?

Yes, seniors can lose weight when performing chair yoga. It may not burn as many calories as other vigorous forms of exercise, but it can still contribute to weight loss efforts, especially when combined with a healthy diet.

The Bottom Line

Some seniors are apprehensive about starting a workout routine due to a variety of factors, including mobility issues, joint pain, or chronic medical conditions. Exercise like chair yoga can help to improve their strength and physique without engaging in high impact activities. A well-designed chair yoga program for women over 50 can allow these women to feel stronger and more energized with their daily activities.

DISCLAIMER:

This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!

SOURCES:

  1. A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial of the Effects of Chair Yoga on Pain and Physical Function Among Community-Dwelling Older Adults With Lower Extremity Osteoarthritis (2018, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  2. Adapted yoga to improve physical function and health-related quality of life in physically-inactive older adults: a randomised controlled pilot trial (2017, bmcgeriatr.biomedcentral.com)
  3. Chair Yoga to Improve Flexibility in Individuals With Parkinson Disease (2023, archives-pmr.org)
  4. Comparison of Resistance and Chair Yoga Training on Subjective Sleep Quality in MCI Women (2017, journals.aiac.org.au)
  5. Does exercise increase or decrease pain? Central mechanisms underlying these two phenomena (2017, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  6. Effect of Chair Yoga Therapy on Functional Fitness and Daily Life Activities among Older Female Adults with Knee Osteoarthritis in Taiwan: A Quasi-Experimental Study (2023, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  7. Effectiveness of Cat-Cow Yoga in Managing Chronic Low Back Pain (2021, classic.clinicaltrials.gov)
  8. Effectiveness of Chair Yoga for Improving the Functional Fitness and Well-being of Female Community-Dwelling Older Adults With Low Physical Activities (2019, journals.lww.com)
  9. Fear of Falling in Older Adults: A Scoping Review of Recent Literature (2021, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  10. Safety and feasibility of modified chair-yoga on functional outcome among elderly at risk for falls (2012, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  11. The Effectiveness of Chair Yoga in Older Adults: A Literature Review (2023, researchgate.net)
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