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Is Yoga good for older people?

Is yoga really good for older people? I've heard that it is, and I want my parents to get enough exercise. But on the other hand, I've also heard that older people should only do exercises that are really easy on their joints (which it seems like yoga wouldn't be.) What do you recommend?
Unfortunately, we do not have any randomized controlled trials on the benefits and risks of yoga in any age group, let alone older folks. With that said, I think I can give you some non-scientific advice. Yoga makes a lot of people feel good. Patients whom I've spoken to that do yoga report stress relief and feeling more energetic during the day. Older folks often do have joint problems and the most common of these is osteoarthritis. While we generally advise patients to use there joints, there are exceptions. Some exercises that involve a lot of joint impact may not be the best choice for an elderly patient with osteoarthritis. For the most part yoga involves stretching muscles and bending of joints without impact. So I would say yoga is fine as long as there isn't a lot of high impact jumping. If they experience pain during or after the exercises, they should probably stop and call there doctor. The best thing to do is to join one or both of your parents at there next visit to there primary care physician. He or she will be able to advise them on what exercises would be best for them with their past medical histories and specific risks in mind. Good luck.
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