It is essential that as we age, we take steps to maintain physical and mental well-being. For seniors, the effects of aging on both the mind and the body are immeasurable. Seniors must incorporate proactive and beneficial strategies into their everyday lives to continue living a full and healthy life.
Both pilates and Meditation are great for seniors. Pilates allows seniors to stay fit and active and helps with range of motion and muscle strength. Meditation is critical to mental wellness and mental acuity. Each practice targets a different aspect of wellness among the senior community, and both have been shown to have excellent benefits and results.
Depending on what the goals are, Meditation or pilates, or a combination of both practices, may be perfect for seniors. Let’s understand more about how each of these practices is practiced and their effect on seniors.
Pilates vs Meditation: How to Choose For Seniors
Pilates and Meditation are two powerful techniques in which seniors can participate in caring for themselves physically and mentally. Pilates and mediation have profound effects on aging and can be used together for seniors who want to take charge of both their mind and body.
Many physical and mental health issues come into play as we age. Pilates is a great way to fight stiffness, imbalance and build bone strength in senior and elderly participants. Mediation can help with anxiety, stress and can help to alleviate symptoms of dementia and memory loss.
When choosing a practice, it is crucial to understand what each one offers and how it can help enhance your quality of life in your older years. Both pilates and Meditation have been effective in fighting off symptoms of aging as well as overall improved quality of life.
You may find that one may suit your needs more or decide to try both pilates and Meditation together to target both physical and mental wellness.
What is Pilates?
Pilates is a low-impact fitness routine that focuses on posture, alignment, and core strength. Pilates classes are generally offered in two forms.
There are mat Pilates classes as well as classes that utilize Pilates equipment known as Reformer classes. Pilates involves breath control and the use of slow, precise movements designed to strengthen and stabilize your core. The goal is to be able to move efficiently while improving your posture, flexibility, and mobility.
Pilates works by isolating specific muscles to target, and they are strengthened by signature movements designed to have you lifting against gravity. Beginner Pilates classes are offered in both mat and reformer styles and can help you learn the movements and breathing techniques.
Pilates is a user-friendly exercise regimen that can help you improve your mobility and balance. While it focuses on the body’s core, you will receive a full-body workout, including your abdomen, legs, hips, and back, all areas requiring extra attention over 60.
What is Meditation?
Meditation and practice may seem like an overwhelming undertaking. Meditation is very personal, and it takes repetition to be fully effective. There are many different kinds of Meditation, and due to its subjective nature, everyone will meditate differently.
Some types of Meditation are:
- Mindfulness meditation is a practice in being present and focusing on the “here and now.” This practice involves focusing on a single element, such as your breath or a focal point in the room. Mindfulness meditation is the practice of bringing your mind back to your focal point over and over whenever it starts to wander.
- Open monitoring meditation is the practice of noticing and thinking about all things that are physically around you and happening around you without reacting to them. By sitting in Meditation and not responding, you allow yourself a chance to gain a new perspective on situations and things and begin to understand your own reactions and self better.
- Guided imagery meditation focuses on calming and relaxing imagery with some sort of guided audio accompaniment such as a beach, a forest, or the voice of a teacher. This type of Meditation helps with stress reduction and keeping the mind in the present moment.
- Body scan meditation involves focusing on each part of your body from head to toe. This allows you to make a note of sensations such as hot or cold, tingling and numbness, or pain. This enables you to be in touch with your body and stay connected to how you are aging and feeling.
Meditation has been effective in reducing stress and anxiety, improving cognitive function, memory, and increasing grey matter in the brain. It can prevent some of the effects of aging on grey matter in the brain, all important benefits for any senior.
Pilates Offers Many Benefits for Seniors
When looking for an exercise routine or practice for seniors, one of the most important factors to consider is how hard it will be on the aging body. It is critical to consider how a workout wears on joints and the risk of injury with a particular type of exercise.
Pilates is a great low-impact workout that makes it the perfect choice for seniors looking to improve their physical health. Pilates is a perfect exercise for those who have tried physical fitness before, and even for others that may be beginning their fitness journey for the first time in their 60s.
Ellie Herman, a renowned Pilates instructor, says that “Pilates is perfect for older adults because it does not have the impact on the body that other forms of exercise do, and is not nearly as severe on the joints as most workouts are.”
Pilates offers amazing benefits for seniors.
Pilates Can Build Strong Bones and Make Considerations For Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a common concern among older adults. By way of prevention, pilates is a great way to build bone strength. One of the most recommended ways of preventing osteoporosis is with weight-bearing exercise. Pilates offers weight-bearing training in an adaptable form that uses resistance and gravity to strengthen muscles and bones.
Pilates can help to prevent osteoporosis and improve bone strength in seniors with low bone density by:
- Increasing bone density when body parts move against the force of gravity
- Increasing strength and muscle mass, which in turn help to support the bones
- Improving balance, which can help prevent falls that might result in a bone fracture
- Improving range of motion and posture, which can help keep the bones in alignment and prevent painful pinched nerves and muscle spasms in the back.
It is important to note that if you have already been diagnosed with osteoporosis that many traditional exercises, including traditional pilates, can be dangerous to attempt. That is what makes pilates such an excellent option for those seniors already experiencing the symptoms of osteoporosis. Pilates is a fully adaptable routine that can be modified to your specific health requirements.
If you are one of the many seniors living with osteoporosis, pilates can be a safe and effective way to build muscle and bone strength. Be sure to ask your Pilates instructor about their experience working with osteoporosis and have them design a safe and effective routine just for you.
Pilates Increases Stability and Balance
Aging can lead to the loss of balance, poor posture, and an increased risk of falls. Pilates offers a wide range of benefits that can help improve the body’s core strength. This results in a stronger sense of balance, a straighter and elongated posture, and increased stability, resulting in fewer falls.
By improving your posture, pilates also has profound effects on your confidence as a senior. Feeling stronger and standing up straighter allows seniors to feel better about themselves and how they interact with their environment, which has a huge impact on their mobility and mental health.
Pilates Can Help Mitigate The Effects of Common Medical Conditions and Ailments
There are many health conditions and issues that arise in aging adults. From surgeries to strokes, pilates offers many valuable benefits that can help with rehabilitation and reduce symptoms caused by these medical conditions.
Hip and Knee Replacements
Because the movements in pilates focus on small intentional movements surrounding the joints, it is also an incredible rehabilitation practice for when recovering from common surgeries in aging adults such as hip and knee replacements.
Pilates has been shown to offer many benefits to aging sufferers of brain traumas such as strokes. Improved walking in post-stroke patients was discovered as a result of an eight-week Pilates program in clinical studies.
“The sooner people with brain damage or a stroke can start balance exercises with Pilates and get their bodies moving symmetrically, the better they will fare in their overall permanent outcome.” – says Pilates trainer Herman.
Parkinson’s disease affects people aged 60 and older and can be physically debilitating. Pilates has been shown to slow and, in some cases, even reverse the effects of Parkinson’s. The exercises structured by pilates can help with rigidity and give you more control of your movements and flexibility.
Arthritis and Rheumatoid arthritis are common ailments in aging and older adults. Pilates is not only a joint-friendly workout, but by its focus on strengthening the core and trunk muscles, pilates has been shown to alleviate the pressure of your body’s full weight on your swollen and sore joints. By strengthening your muscles around the inflicted joints, you may also notice a decrease in pain levels and an increase in your joint mobility.
Pilates Can Help Increase Your Energy and Endurance
Physical exercise, when you are older, is not only about weight management and building muscle. Aging adults often experience low energy and find that they lack the endurance necessary to keep up with the day-to-day activities, play with grandchildren, and stay active in their lives and communities.
Pilates is an excellent way for seniors to build endurance and increase energy levels. Aside from the confidence-building that accompanies a regular Pilates practice, seniors who regularly practice pilates find that they are able to maintain higher energy levels for longer and have the flexibility and strength necessary to stay active with their families and loved ones.
By decreasing aches and pains, increasing energy, and building confidence, pilates can help seniors maintain the lifestyle they want and desire.
Best Pilates Exercises For Seniors
There are many Pilates-specific exercises available that may be incorporated into your pilates routine. As a senior, you may consider taking either a mat or a Reformer Pilates class. One of the most excellent benefits of pilates is that almost every movement can be modified for your exact needs and medical history.
Because pilates continues to rise in popularity, there are many Pilates studios and options available for classes. It is recommended that when you begin a Pilates practice, particularly as a senior, that you start with a few private Pilates instructions.
This allows for an experienced Pilates instructor to teach you the modifications that are right for you and ensure that you have a safe and effective Pilates routine that you will benefit from the most.
Some of the best Pilates exercises to ask about for seniors are:
- The Single-Leg Pull
- A Modified Plank
- Leg Slides
- Thigh Folds
- The Bird Dog
Be sure to inform your instructor of your fitness goals as well as your medical history. This will ensure you can enjoy all of the benefits pilates has to offer the older adult community.
Seniors Can Benefit in Many Ways By Meditating
Meditation has been around for thousands of years. The practice of Meditation has long been correlated with the path to spiritual enlightenment, but there are many everyday benefits to adopting a regular meditation practice.
Meditation offers a host of mental benefits that are perfect for practitioners of all ages, as well as physical benefits. It is never too late to start meditating. For seniors, meditating can become a powerful tool in helping to increase their quality of life and help offset the many symptoms of an aging mind.
Meditation Can Improve Memory and Battle Cognitive Decline
One of the most common things in the aging process is memory loss. Both short-term and long-term memory can be affected by aging. Meditation has long been credited with improved memory and decreasing memory loss.
Dementia and Alzheimer’s are the two most discussed and common occurrences of cognitive decline among older adults. Studies have shown that meditation practice can help slow the progression of such diseases and, in some cases, help to prevent the onset.
According to Senior Lifestyle, “Meditation can increase telomerase–an enzyme needed to reduce progressive diseases like Alzheimer’s–by 43%. Additionally, researchers found that people who meditate regularly can harness the power or feeling of a subconscious mind, giving your brain the ability to retain more information.”
Regular Meditation has also been shown to have a positive effect on the endurance of your attention span. Meditation is a powerful tool in the prevention of mental decline caused by age.
Mindfulness Meditation Can Lower and Help Control High Blood Pressure
Mindfulness meditation is one kind of Meditation that is helpful in reducing stress and the negative impact of stress on the body. High blood pressure is a very common ailment amongst the older adult population and can lead to a host of dangerous health events.
A study performed at Kent University found that stress-relieving meditations such as mindfulness practice can reduce high blood pressure. Mindfulness meditation can be used to combat high blood pressure on its own or in conjunction with prescription medication for a full approach to healthy blood pressure.
Meditation Can Improve Digestion and Circulation
Aging can bring about reduced blood circulation and digestive issues. These are common among older adults, and although most cases are not threatening in nature, they can have an impact on the overall quality of life for a senior.
Blood oxygen levels and good blood circulation are essential for an active senior. The deep breathing practices included in mediation have been shown to increase oxygen in the blood and improve circulation in regular practitioners of Meditation.
Meditation also has a strong positive impact on digestion and gut health. Meditation activates the ‘rest and digest’ response in the body. This can help alleviate digestive issues like IBS, reduce inflammation, and improve nutrient absorption and metabolism.
Meditation Can Help Manage Chronic Pain
There are a lot of things that can cause chronic pain in older adults. Regular aches and pains as a result of aging, arthritis, surgeries, and old injuries can all lead to a senior living with chronic pain.
This directly impacts the mobility and quality of life for the many older adults that suffer from chronic pain. Meditation is a powerful tool for helping chronic pain sufferers in managing and alleviating their pain.
Mindfulness meditation can be an effective way to control pain. Meditating allows you to focus on breathing and forces you to focus on how your body is feeling in the present moment. Studies have found that your body becomes in tune with your nervous system when you breathe six breaths a minute.
Meditation has also been proven in studies to activate and reinforce areas of the brain related to pain. Regular Meditation has been shown to reduce the severity of pain in chronic pain sufferers.
Meditation Can Help Alleviate Feelings Of Loneliness
As we age and our social circles get smaller, we find ourselves spending more time alone. Older adults, additionally, post-retirement, find themselves with quite a bit of time spent alone. Loneliness has been expressed as a common feeling among senior adults.
Loneliness has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease as well as depression and increased anxiety. Regular mindfulness practice and Meditation have been shown to have promising results in lessening the feelings of isolation and loneliness described by seniors.
Meditation Will Improve Your Sleep
Dr. Jack Gardner states, that “Insomnia is more common for seniors, partly because of health issues, partly because of the anxiety and the concerns of aging, and sometimes because of medication.”
Proper sleep is essential to everyone’s overall health and well-being. Seniors need just as much sleep as the average adult, although most are not getting nearly enough. Having trouble falling asleep and trouble staying asleep are the most common sleep disturbances in older adults.
Meditation has long been used to help with sleep. Guided mediation is very helpful in calming the body and mind and creating restful environments. These meditations can be a powerful tool in releasing tension from the body, alleviating stress and pain, and inviting a restful night’s sleep. This works by lowering your heart rate, slowing your breathing, and reducing cognitive brain activity.
You Can Meditate For Increased Energy
Fatigue in seniors is experienced for a number of medical and lifestyle reasons and can be frustrating. Low energy and stamina is a common problem for older adults. Chronic fatigue and feeling unenergetic can easily lead to feelings of isolation and depression.
While Meditation is almost always explained as a practice that can reduce stress and “relax,” it can also help you fight fatigue and make you feel energized and grounded. If you are looking for a way to battle fatigue and give yourself a boost of energy, learn more about different types of Meditation and pick the one which resonates with you the most.
Mindfulness Meditation Might Help To Build Muscle
Building and maintaining strength is a critical factor in caring for your health in your senior years. Balance, strength, and stamina are all vital to avoid falls and injuries as you age. Incorporating mindfulness mediation into your routine can help increase your success when building muscle and strength training.
Mindfulness meditation allows you to practice intention and to be present. While it alleviates stress, Meditation will enable you to tap into more energy in your workouts, and you will find that you are working harder and, in turn, building more muscle.
Meditation Can Give Your Immune System a Boost
Generally speaking, people of all ages could benefit from boosting their immune systems. Aging adults, in particular, need extra immunity as their immune system becomes depressed as they age. A healthy immune system is imperative in fighting off diseases and infections.
Meditation works by activating your body’s parasympathetic nervous system. This part of our body’s immune system is known as the “rest and digest” phase. When this nervous system is activated, our body is focused on the rest and repair of vital parts of our bodies. This includes the immune system, which most of the day is being suppressed during daily activities.
The more time you allow yourself to activate this critical feature of your body’s response to the world around you, the stronger your immune system will become and the healthier you will be.
Meditation and Pilates Are Excellent Ways for Seniors to Improve Their Health
It’s easy to feel out of control when we age. The aging process is different for everyone, but the physical and mental state changes can feel inevitable and scary. But, with the proper exercises and movements, you’ll be able to keep your good health for just a little longer.
Pain, sleep problems, illness, and disease are just some of the ways that aging can affect us. Being proactive in our health is one of the simplest ways to take control of the aging process and alleviate some of the uncomfortable and difficult symptoms you may be experiencing.
When it comes to the well-being of seniors, it is important to consider both physical health and mental health. With the unique challenges that come with aging, not all options for physical health are possible, and mental health is of increasing importance.
Pilates is one of the most flexible and accessible options for physical health in seniors. Because of its adaptability and low impact, pilates is a perfect fit for seniors looking to build muscle, gain flexibility and balance, and alleviate joint pain and joint issues.
Meditation can reduce the severity of cognitive and memory issues and possibly prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s and dementia. Meditation can be helpful in mitigating loneliness and other feelings that can lead to depression in seniors. By helping older adults improve the quality of their sleep, mental acuity improves as well as the overall sense of well-being.
While both Meditation and pilates are beneficial in their own right to the well-being and health of seniors, used together, older adults can experience more well-rounded benefits of improving both their physical and mental health in tandem. It is never too late to start taking charge of your health. Start by searching for a Pilates studio near you and looking up some guided meditation that fits your desired needs.