Don't think yoga is for you? If you're feeling stiff or achy, it may be the best medicine—no headstands required.
Research shows that doing a gentle yoga workout most days of the week can relieve back and arthritis pain, ramp up energy, and even temper hot flashes. And the benefits are long lasting—people reported 70% less lower-back pain three months after a study in which they attended a weekly yoga class and practiced at home, say researchers at West Virginia University School of Medicine.
Bonus: It may also make you happier, according to research from Boston University School of Medicine. After 60 minutes of yoga, volunteers' levels of the feel-good brain chemical GABA increased by 27%.
This short, beginner-friendly plan was developed by Susan Winter Ward, who created Yoga for the Young at Heart, a video series for people over age 50. With regular practice, you'll tone your muscles, improve flexibility, and feel younger than ever.
Workout at a Glance:
You'll need: A yoga mat and a sturdy chair
How to do it: Perform poses in order, flowing from one to the next. It will take about 15 minutes. For a greater challenge and more benefits, do the routine twice or hold the poses longer.
Photo by Jonathan Pozniak
Why: Increases flexibility
How: Lie on back with arms extended on floor at shoulder height, palms down. Bring knees to chest. Keeping knees together, exhale and lower legs to left side. Turn head to look over right arm. Take several deep breaths. Inhale, bringing legs back to center, then exhale and repeat on opposite side. The spinal twist pose strengthens back muscles.
Why: Stretches back and abs; tones arms and shoulders
How: Get on all fours, with knees directly below hips and hands directly below shoulders. Exhale. Tucking tailbone under, arch spine upward like a Halloween cat, bringing chin toward chest.
Inhale, tipping tailbone up and curving spine downward; look toward ceiling, expanding chest. Repeat 5 times.