Study finds the benefit of yoga in improving gait speed in elderly

There is substantial evidence validating the benefits of yoga in improving the physical as well as psychological health of individuals across all age groups. Now, a systematic review published in the recent issue of Annals of age Internal Medicine Recentl has highlighted that practicing yoga is linked to meaningful clinical outcomes in frail older populations.

Julia Loewenthal and his team screened 33 studies and extracted data on the effects of yoga-based interventions on frailty in adults aged 65 years or above. The experts noted that Iyengar or chair-based techniques are the most frequently used yoga forms. However, none of the screened studies validated the definition of frailty. This review of studies highlighted that yoga increases gait speed, lower-extremity strength and endurance, and handgrip strength when compared to education or inactive control groups However, they are limited evidence on the association of balance with multicomponent physical function and handgrip strength.

A 2020 study also reported that yoga practice provides several health benefits and prevents physical frailty in the elderly. The study included 37 older adults, of whom 72% of participants were engaged in physical activity.  The majority of the participants were not practicing yoga, and the key barriers identified were perceived difficulty in practicing yoga, lack of motivation, and fear of getting hurt. Although the study respondents had a positive attitude towards yoga, they had limited experience and lacked the motivation to practice it.

These findings underscore the need for implementing tailored educational interventions and yoga promotion activities in elderly care settings. Further studies are required to identify novel ways to motivate the elderly to practice yoga on a daily basis.

References

  1. Loewenthal J, Innes KE, Mitzner M, Mita C, Orkaby AR. Effect of Yoga on Frailty in Older Adults: A Systematic Review. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2023 Mar 14.
  2. Perkins R, Dassel K, Felsted KF, Towsley G, Edelman L. Yoga for seniors: understanding their beliefs and barriers to participation. Educational Gerontology. 2020 Jul 2;46(7):382-92.
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