Research is exploring the connections between exercise and cognitive health in seniors. In a study published in the journal of Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, practices such as yoga which integrate movement and mindfulness may improve cognitive function and well being in seniors. This study included 135 seniors aged 65-85 years. Seniors enrolled in a yoga class for 6 months and learned mind-body techniques such as intentional breathing, gentle stretching, balance training and mindfulness. At the end of six months, study participants reported an improved sense of well-being.
Seniors and caregivers can incorporate yoga techniques into their everyday routine to promote cognitive health. The following are some tips for caregivers and seniors to practice mindfulness and exercise.
Mindful breathing. Practice mindful breathing by inhaling for 3 seconds followed by 3 seconds of exhaling. During mindful breathing, maintain good body posture.
Progressive relaxation. Create space for mindfulness by progressive relaxation. Begin by relaxing your body, starting with your shoulders and moving downward to your toes. As you intentionally relax your muscles, be mindful of your emotions, breathing pattern, and thoughts.
Meditation. Meditation is a mental, physical and spiritual exercise. Focus on 3 things you are grateful for everyday at a beginning of meditation. Focus your thoughts and creativity by practicing mindful breathing. Use prayer or positive mantras to focus throughout the meditation.
Oken, B. S., Zajdel, D., Kishiyama, S., Flegal, K., Dehen, C., Haas, M., … Leyva, J. (2006). Randomized, controlled, six-month trial of yoga in healthy seniors: effects on cognition and quality of life. Alternative therapies in health and medicine, 12(1), 40-47.