Practising yoga can boost muscle strength and balance in older adults as well as improve mental wellbeing, a study has found. Researchers at the University of Edinburgh in the UK reviewed 22 studies that had investigated the effects of yoga on physical and mental wellbeing in older adults.
The yoga programmes varied in length from one month to seven months, and duration of sessions ranged from 30 to 90 minutes. Statistical analysis combined the results of the studies to see the effects of yoga compared with no activity, and compared to other activities such as walking and chair aerobics.
"A large proportion of older adults are inactive, and do not meet the balance and muscle strengthening recommendations set by government and international health organisations," said Divya Sivaramakrishnan, from University of Edinburgh.
"Based on this study, we can conclude that yoga has great potential to improve important physical and psychological outcomes in older adults. Yoga is a gentle activity that can be modified to suit those with age-related conditions and diseases," Sivaramakrishnan said in a statement.
The researchers found that people who practiced yoga had improved balance, flexibility, leg strength, depression, sleep quality, vitality and perceived mental and physical health -- compared with no activity.
Compared with other activities yoga improved lower body strength, lower body flexibility and depression. The research improves understanding of the benefits yoga can offer an ageing population, researchers said.
It provides evidence for promoting yoga in physical activity guidelines for older adults, he said.