According to randomized controlled studies, yoga may improve known longevity predictors like walking speed and leg strength.
The mind-body practice has previously been shown to improve balance, mobility, and mental well-being in older adults. It includes physical poses as well as other elements like breathing and meditation.
Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, which is affiliated with Harvard, and other collaborators looked at 33 studies that included 2,384 people over 65 to see if yoga can help the elderly. Their findings, which were published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, suggest that yoga improves one’s ability to stand from a chair and walk faster, which are both linked to being less frail and living longer.
The Fried physical phenotype and Rockwood cumulative deficit models—valid definitions of frailty—have never been used to evaluate yoga’s benefits to physical health. As a result, the authors looked at studies that looked at how yoga affected individual frailty metrics like gait or walking speed, balance, handgrip strength, lower extremity strength and endurance, and a variety of multicomponent physical performance measures that are included in these models.
When compared to control groups that were inactive or who received educational interventions, improved walking speed was found to have the strongest association with a yoga intervention across all of the studies that were examined. Given that previous studies have linked slower walking speeds to a higher risk of death in older adults, the authors emphasized the clinical significance of this finding.
“It’s never too late to start an exercise or yoga practice to improve your overall health in later years.”
— Julia Loewenthal, Division of Aging at BWH In a similar vein, the finding that yoga may improve leg strength, which affects everyday activities like getting out of bed or a chair, encouraged the authors. There was less evidence to suggest that yoga helped with balance; However, the authors point out that some of the yoga practices in the examined studies were chair-based, so they may not have provided the same balance-enhancing benefits as standing poses. Yoga practice did not appear to improve handgrip strength, another metric of frailty. In addition, it was demonstrated that yoga did not provide frailty-related benefits beyond those associated with exercise or other mind-body practices like tai chi.
“There are many contributing variables to feebleness, like troubles with strolling and balance, mental hindrance, and certain persistent circumstances. First author Julia Loewenthal of the Division of Aging stated, “When you look at a person as a whole, especially an older person, there may be a number of difficulties that each contribute to frailty.” Yoga may be effective in preventing a syndrome like frailty, which has multiple causes, because it is an integrative practice that affects multiple health areas.
The creators note a few limits to the review, including the little example sizes of numerous preliminaries and the absence of consistency in the kinds of yoga rehearses assessed. According to their findings, Iyengar-based practices, which are adaptable and adaptable to the use of props, may be particularly useful for preventing frailty. The researchers hope to evaluate the impact of a yoga intervention on frailty in older adults using validated definitions of frailty, such as the Fried physical phenotype or the Rockwood cumulative deficit test. The researchers are also interested in determining whether yoga is more effective as an early intervention for frailty at younger ages because the participants’ mean age was 72 years.
According to Loewenthal, “movement-based mind-body practices have the potential to be really helpful for promoting healthy aging over the lifespan because they provide a benefit to physical and cognitive health as well as have a spillover effect that can lead to having a healthier lifestyle overall.” Although participating in a healthy practice like this at a younger age may be beneficial, we still observed clinically significant outcomes in an older population. To improve your overall health in later years, it is never too late to begin a yoga practice or exercise routine.
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