Vast amounts of research indicate that both exercise and meditation are good for you. Yoga is one of the few activities that promotes the benefits of both. With this in mind, researchers searched past literature to determine exactly how yoga and physical and psychological health are associated among older adults.
The researchers used the academic search engines MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine and National Center for Biotechnology Information, EMBASE , and Cochrane Center Register of Controlled Trials to conduct a systemic review of related literature, specifically searching articles that included older adults aged 65 and better. Researchers only reviewed articles that included validated measures to rate different types of frailty, such as gait speed, hand grip strength, and balance, and lower extremity strength and endurance. Each article addressed one of various different types of yoga, including silver, balance, and power yoga as well as yoga meditation, and focused on yoga outcomes pertaining to physical posture, meditation, breathing, and relaxation. Each study consisted of respondents of differing sample sizes ranging from less than 25 to more than 100 people. Ultimately, a total of 33 articles written between 2006 and 2022 internationally met this criteria.
Researchers concluded that yoga may affect different types of frailty. When compared to the control group, respondents who practiced yoga exhibited better gait speed, lower extremity strength and endurance, and balance. However, yoga did not significantly differ in its benefits relative to other types of more active exercise or Tai Chi. While their conclusions are consistent with research examining the association between yoga and physical function, researchers note that their findings cannot be generalized because the number of articles that were examined is small. In turn, they suggest that future research is needed to examine frailty using more extensive performance measures.
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Loewenthal, J., Innes, K. E., Mitzner, M., Mita, C., & Orkaby, A. R. (2023). Effect of Yoga on Frailty in Older Adults: A Systematic Review. Annals of Internal Medicine.