AlzU Blog

8 Ways Yoga May Help Caregivers and People with Alzheimer's Disease

If you or a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) want to learn about a safe exercise regime as part of a healthy AD lifestyle routine, you may be interested in the benefits of Yoga.

Yoga may seem like nothing more than some basic moves to stretch the muscles; but experts say it can do much more for fitness (including promoting weight loss).  Please note that before any type of workout routine is implemented, the attending physician should be notified.  Consulting with a certified Yoga instructor is also recommended to implement proper techniques and safety.  Here are some ways that Yoga is thought to help facilitate shedding pounds, and improve health and wellness:

1. Yoga is said to help activate the thyroid gland.  The thyroid is responsible for setting the body’s metabolism rate.  Many people (particularly seniors and older adults) experience unwanted weight gain with age.  The inverted shoulder pose is thought to help the thyroid gland work more efficiently at resetting a healthy metabolism rate.  This pose (and all others) should only be performed after instruction by a certified Yoga instructor.

2. Yoga stimulates the gastrointestinal system (including the liver).  There are many GI conditions that influence weight gain including, digestive disorders like Crohn’s disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Ulcerative Colitis and more.  This is not to say that Yoga in and of itself will necessarily cure digestive disorders, but it may improve the symptoms. 

3. Yoga helps promote healthy liver function, which can lead to improved digestion and elimination of some types of food cravings.  Note, getting a balanced diet will also help to lower frequent cravings for food. 

4. Yoga can help flex the spinal column muscles to promote overall flexibility and strengthen the abdominal wall, improving proper body alignment.  This can help alleviate back pain.

5. Yoga can promote a healthy heart, particularly with some poses such as the “sun salutation.” Sun salutation involves changing poses several times in succession without pausing long enough to hold any of the positions. Each of these twelve movements together in succession is considered one movement series.  Each time a position starts and stops, it causes the heart rate to increase slightly (without stress on the heart or any of the joints).  Again, be sure to perform these poses ONLY under the supervision of a certified Yoga instructor after the okay from the physician.

6. Yoga stimulates natural strength building via standing poses as it works the muscles.  These standing poses can help promote falls prevention as well because they improve balance while at the same time increasing metabolism to promote weight loss. 

7. Yoga poses involving twisting movements help stimulate the internal organs.  At the same time, flexing the colon can help promote waste elimination and improve constipation. 

8. Yoga can help release tension and alleviate anxiety.  Some experts say it may even prevent food cravings.  Hatha Yoga involves poses that are said to help reduce stress while promoting relaxation.

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