The effects of a therapeutic yoga program on postural control, mobility, and gait speed in community-dwelling older adults

Kathleen K Kelley, Dana Aaron, Kimberly Hynds, Emily Machado, Michelle Wolff
Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine: Research on Paradigm, Practice, and Policy 2014, 20 (12): 949-54

OBJECTIVE: To examine the effects of a 12-week therapeutic yoga program on gait speed, postural control, and mobility in community-dwelling older adults.

DESIGN: Quasi-experimental study with a pretest/post-test design. Researchers evaluated changes over time (pretest to post-test) in all outcome measures. Paired t-tests were used to analyze normal and fast gait speed, Timed Up and Go test, and Timed Up and Go Dual Task. Wilcoxon signed-rank test was used to evaluate scores for the Mini-BESTest (MBT).

SETTING: Yoga classes were performed at a local senior center. Blind examiners who were previously trained in the outcome measures performed all pretests and post-tests at the site.

PARTICIPANTS: Thirteen adults (12 women and 1 man, with a mean age±standard deviation of 72±6.9 years) completed the study. Research participants had minimal to no yoga experience.

INTERVENTIONS: A 12-week, 60-minute, biweekly Kripalu yoga class designed specifically for community-dwelling older adults.

OUTCOME MEASURES: Postural control (MBT), mobility (Timed Up and Go test), and gait speed (normal and fast) were assessed.

RESULTS: All 13 participants attended at least 19 of the 24 classes (80% attendance). Statistically significant improvements were seen in the MBT (p=0.039), normal gait speed (p=0.015), fast gait speed (p=0.001), Timed Up and Go test (p=0.045), and Timed Up and Go Dual-Task (p=0.05).

CONCLUSIONS: Improvements in postural control and mobility as measured by the MBT and Timed Up and Go gait as measured by fast gait speed indicate that research participants benefitted from the therapeutic yoga intervention. The yoga program designed for this study included activities in standing, sitting, and lying on the floor and may be effective in improving mobility, postural control, and gait speed in community-dwelling older adults.

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