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Yoga benefits in the ageing population:
Older people who had a range of age-related conditions including
arthritis and dementia showed physical and health related improvements
after doing Yoga classes, research shows.
Doing Yoga is an effective way for physically-inactive people aged
over 60 years to become more mobile, while also improving their mental
and social well-being, according to research from Northumbria
‘Adapted Yoga to improve physical function and health-related
quality of life in physically-inactive older adults: A randomised
controlled pilot trial’ shows that a weekly group-based Yoga programme,
adapted for older adults with a broad range of age-related diseases or
disorders, can lead to improvements in physical function and mental
The 3-month research study was conducted at Yorkshire Yoga and
Therapy Centre, two community centres and a care home in Harrogate,
North Yorkshire, with 52 participants ranging from 63 to 92 years of
The British Wheel of Yoga (BWY) ‘Gentle Years Yoga’ programme was
first developed by charity Yorkshire Yoga in 2009 to cater specifically
for the needs of older people with age-related conditions such as
osteoarthritis, hypertension, dementia, and sensory impairment.
Adaptations to more challenging Yoga poses were developed so that
older adults with physical limitations could safely participate while
still reaping the health benefits of Yoga. The aim of this recent study
with Northumbria University was to confirm these benefits among a
physically-inactive ageing population.
The study found the most commonly-cited physical benefits included
improved mobility, for example improved chair rising, walking ability,
improved flexibility and reduced pain.
Cited mental health benefits included stress-relieving effects,
improved mood and a reduced frequency of panic attacks. More than 70% of
participants said they liked the social interaction that the group
exercise class provided and many said they had developed new
Dr Garry Tew, who led the research from Northumbria University’s
Department of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation, said: "There can be
several barriers to exercise among people aged 60 or more, including
personal issues such as pain and discomfort, fear of injury, and
misconceptions about what’s appropriate. This Yoga programme may be
appealing because its content is suitable for people with hip or knee
replacements and long-term health conditions such as osteoporosis and
Yoga is a holistic therapy, which has the potential to produce a range of physical and mental benefits. The
apparent social benefits of this programme were also very interesting,
with many participants saying they felt the classes gave them a new
lease of life and made them feel less isolated.”
The study is published in BMC Geriatrics.
The BWY is the National
Governing Body for Yoga recognised by Sport England and the Sport and
Recreation Alliance. The BWY has been existence for 52 years and it is
the oldest and largest Yoga membership organisation in the UK.
BWY Chair says:
committed to building on this excellent research and training as many
BWY teachers as possible to deliver the Gentle Years Yoga programme.
Yoga can play an important role in promoting health, wellness and
quality of life among older members of communities across the UK. At a
time when an ageing population is putting pressure on health and social
care services, yoga can also be a cost effective way of meeting this
nationwide challenge. Our thanks to Northumbria University and the
Yorkshire Yoga and Therapy Centre for their work”.