India has the second largest elderly population in the world and according to the Indian Scenario of geriatric population 2011, 99 million out of 1.21 billion are over the age of 60, which was 77 million in 2001 and by 2021, the elder population in India is expected to cross 137 million. Indian Society has always been characterized by the traditional joint family systems, where a great deal of importance was given to the elders, but as years went by, society witnesses a gradual and consistent change in values and traditions.
A large number of elders found themselves either alone, neglected or isolated by their children and relatives and have no one to support them. Elders face a lot of problems due to lack of support from the government, social security and medical healthcare. The first and foremost downside of ageing is health issues which can have a toll on elders if neglected and if there is no one to support them, it becomes worse. Therefore, it is important to eat healthy and be active. The quality of life is an important elder issue; therefore it is important to maintain good balance while performing everyday activities. Coordination of the neural, Physical and musculoskeletal has to have a balance to maintain an active and healthy lifestyle as one grows older.
Being active and following a healthy lifestyle helps the elders in many ways like improving social relationships, memory retention and preventing depression. Regular exercising will also help with mood swings and personality disorders by redirecting their negative thoughts and providing support. Older people face problems of mobility and balance because of a sedentary lifestyle leading to a number of other problems, like poor blood flow, joint pain, obesity, etc. Maintaining an active life will also build physical strength and stamina while adding value to their life.
Lack of physical activity can also slow down brain function as one gets older. Exercise increases the flow of blood in the body and brain, leading to better mental health and improved cognitive functioning. Learning a new skill keeps the brain active and protects against dementia. Being able to adjust to change is significant at any age, but is important as one gets older. Old age is also categorized by the rise of several health problems that occur later in life and do not fall into distinct disease categories; and commonly called as the geriatric syndromes which are the result of multiple factors including infirmity, urinary incontinence, imbalance, and disorientation.
On this International Yoga Day, let’s spread the word and encourage our elders to practice active ageing and healthy living. Yoga has a therapeutic effect and is considered more traditional exercise as it involves the engagement and balance of mind and body. Yoga is an unconventional approach to conventional exercise and also beneficial for people with physical limitations. The World Health Organization defines “active aging” as: “Optimizing opportunities for health, participation, and security in order to enhance the quality of life as people age”. The word “active” refers to continuing participation in social, economic, cultural, spiritual, and civic affairs.
Active Ageing aims to extend healthy life expectancy and quality of life for all people as they age.” Yoga asanas arrays from simple to intricate exercises, along with controlled breathing. Yoga is known to increase muscle strength, flexibility, endurance, and cardiopulmonary stamina. The exercises stretch the main muscles and use isometric contraction and relaxation of muscles to assume a static posture, creating a balance in the body.
The physical and social environment also plays an important part in the overall health of the elders, as they play an important role in the development and maintenance of healthy behavior by following a healthy diet and exercising regularly.