Hatha Yoga practice by older adults can reduce fear of falling, according to a new Indiana University study. Following a 12-week, twice weekly hatha yoga class, study participants expressed a reduced fear of falling, reduced constraints in leisure activities and increased lower body flexibility.
Older adults, particularly those who have not fallen, often limit their physical and social activity in an effort to avoid falls. However, limiting physical and social activity can lead to a diminished quality of life and poor health.
"Our study found that yoga was a feasible intervention with older adults and that they perceived great benefit from it," said Marieke Van Puymbroeck, assistant professor in the Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Studies in IU's School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation.
Of the 14 study participants with an average age of 78, five had fallen prior to the study. Participants attended a 60-minute hatha yoga class twice weekly. Following the 12-week class, participants reported reductions in leisure activity constraints, a 34 percent increase in body flexibility and a 6 percent reduction in fear of falling.
Participants experienced benefits including improved balance, increased range of motion and improved posture.
Yoga may be beneficial for various diseases and ailments such as cardiovascular disease, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, headaches, arthritis, and asthma. Individuals who practice yoga regularly experience increased strength and energy, reduced stress and lowered blood pressure, slower respiratory rate, and improved blood circulation.
Yoga as a fitness trend continues to displace traditional exercise forms. Along with Pilates, recumbent bikes and elliptical trainers, yoga is one of the fastest growing workout activities. Yoga is also absorbing members of more traditional fitness classes, such as kickboxing, step-aerobics and cardio.
Providing an alternative to higher impact activities, yoga provides an opportunity for a complete health and fitness experience that offers a mind-body connect. Over the past decade, yoga has grown from a niche market into one of the top sectors of the health and fitness industry. It’s also an exercise trend that poses less stress to the body.
A weekly yoga routine should include at least one to two 60-minute sessions. Regular practice can reduce symptoms of many chronic health conditions. With persistence, weigh loss can be achieved. Through yoga’s strengthening, endurance building and stretching, muscle toning is increased for the entire body.
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