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Gentle Yoga Reduces Risk of Falls in Older Adults

Posted on: 10/20/2005
Yoga has been shown to have many mental and physical benefits. It can be done by very elderly, ill, or disabled people. In this study yoga is used to improve hip motion and stride length when walking. The goal is to reduce falls in older adults caused by age-related changes.

The authors showed that a gentle eight-week program of yoga increased lower-body strength and flexibility. The final result was increased hip extension and increased stride length.

All the people in the study were 62 years old or older. None had any previous experience with yoga. Everyone came to a 90-minute yoga class for four weeks. They also did 20 minutes of yoga at home five times each week. The yoga exercises were for beginner, older adults.

Walking speed and stride length were measured before and after the yoga program. Pelvis and lower extremity motion were also measured. All measures showed a major improvement after eight weeks of yoga.

The study also showed that the more often people did yoga and for longer periods of time, the more improvement they had. The authors conclude a gentle yoga practice can benefit gait function in older adults.

Margarete DiBenedetto, MD, et al. Effect of a Gentle Iyengar Yoga Program on Gait in the Elderly: An Exploratory Study. In Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. September 2005. Vol. 86. No. 9. Pp. 1830-1837.

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