Effects of an Integrated Yoga Program on Quality of Life, Spinal Flexibility, and Strength in Older Adults: A Randomized Control Trial

Hassan Ratnakara Shree Ganesh; Pailoor Subramanya, MSc, PhD; Raghavendra Mohan Rao; BNYS, MD; Hisakote Sanjeevarao Vadiraj, BNYS, PhD; Vivek Udupa, BNYS, MD



Context • Aging can contribute to a decrease in physical activity as a result of metabolic dysfunction and hormonal imbalance that can cause degenerative joint disease and aging-related inflammation. As age advances, a decrease in muscle mass, muscle strength, and flexibility can impair physical function.

Objective • The study intended to evaluate the effects of an integrated yoga module in improving the flexibility, muscle strength, and quality of life (QOL) of older adults.

Design • This research team designed a prospective, two-arm, open-label, and parallel, randomized controlled trial.

Setting • The study took place in an outpatient department at Divine Park, Yoga & Naturopathy Hospital, Udupi, Karnataka, India

Participants • Participants were 96 older adults, aged 60-75 years (64.1 ± 3.95 years) taking part in a yoga program in the department.

Intervention • The program was a three-month, yoga-based lifestyle intervention. The participants were randomly allocated to the intervention group (n = 48) or to a waitlisted control group (n = 48). The intervention group underwent three one-hour sessions of yoga weekly, with each session including loosening exercises, asanas, pranayama, and meditation spanning.

Outcome Measures • At baseline and post intervention, assessments were made: (1) for spinal flexibility using a sit and reach test, (2) for back and leg strength using a back leg dynamometer, (3) for handgrip strength (HGS) and endurance (HGE) using a hand-grip dynamometer, and (4) the Older People’s Quality of Life (OPQOL) questionnaire. Analysis was performed employing Wilcoxon’s Sign Rank tests and Mann Whitney Tests, using an intention-to-treat approach.

Results • Compared to the control group, the intervention group experienced a significantly greater increase in spinal flexibility (P < .001), back leg strength (P < .001), HGE (P < .01), and QOL (P < .001) after three months of yoga.

Conclusion • Yoga can be used safely for older adults to improve flexibility, strength, and functional QOL. Larger randomized controlled trials with an active control intervention are warranted. (Adv Mind Body Med. 2021;36(1):22-28.)

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