Yoga may improve stability in seniors
Yoga practice doesn’t have to be limited to young people or those in great shape, experts agree. People of all ages who practice yoga are provided numerous benefits to the mind, body and spirit, as well as burn calories.
Balance and mobility naturally decline with age, yet in a recent study, individuals over the age of 60 who practiced yoga experienced improved mobility and balance. The study, conducted by the University of Sydney in Australia and published in the journal Age and Ageing, focused on the benefits yoga can have to build stability in an effort to help prevent falls.
“Yoga is just one example of an activity that will help improve balance and mobility,” says Dr. William Rhoades, chairman of the department of geriatric medicine at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill. “What I stress to my patients is activity. This is the biggest key to maintaining stability as we age. If my patients become inactive, that concerns me because that is when muscle atrophy begins. Find something you enjoy, I don’t care if it’s walking, swimming or yoga, and participate in those activities regularly.”
In their review, analysts said they were not surprised by their findings, but were pleased to report that the elderly group of people who participated in short yoga programs noted significant improvement in their mobility and balance.
They conducted six trials that included 300 men and women 60 years old and older. Five groups were made up of community residents, while the sixth consisted of senior center residents. Participation was at 82 percent during the 60 to 90 minute sessions held once or twice a week. The trial lasted two to three months.
The participants’ balance was challenged mostly in a standing position, and some individuals reported minor pain in their knees and lower back, according to the study. Positive results included a small improvement in balance and a medium improvement in mobility, as analysts looked at the participants’ walking speed and their ability to get out of a chair.
After the trials were completed, researchers didn’t follow up on participants to find out whether falls occurred, thus they could not conclude yoga prevented those risks.
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