Comparative impacts of Tai Chi, balance training, and a specially-designed yoga program on balance in older fallers

Meng Ni, Kiersten Mooney, Luca Richards, Anoop Balachandran, Mingwei Sun, Kysha Harriell, Melanie Potiaumpai, Joseph F Signorile
Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 2014, 95 (9): 1620-1628.e30

OBJECTIVE: To compare the effect of a custom-designed yoga program with 2 other balance training programs.

DESIGN: Randomized controlled trial.

SETTING: Research laboratory.

PARTICIPANTS: A group of older adults (N=39; mean age, 74.15 ± 6.99 y) with a history of falling.

INTERVENTIONS: Three different exercise interventions (Tai Chi, standard balance training, yoga) were given for 12 weeks.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Balance performance was examined during pre- and posttest using field tests, including the 8-foot up-and-go test, 1-leg stance, functional reach, and usual and maximal walking speed. The static and dynamic balances were also assessed by postural sway and dynamic posturography, respectively.

RESULTS: Training produced significant improvements in all field tests (P<.005), but group difference and time × group interaction were not detected. For postural sway, significant decreases in the area of the center of pressure with eyes open (P=.001) and eyes closed (P=.002) were detected after training. For eyes open, maximum medial-lateral velocity significantly decreased for the sample (P=.013). For eyes closed, medial-lateral displacement decreased for Tai Chi (P<.01). For dynamic posturography, significant improvements in overall score (P=.001), time on the test (P=.006), and 2 linear measures in lateral (P=.001) and anterior-posterior (P<.001) directions were seen for the sample.

CONCLUSIONS: Yoga was as effective as Tai Chi and standard balance training for improving postural stability and may offer an alternative to more traditional programs.

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