A 2006 randomized, controlled trial examined the effects of a 6-month yoga program on cognitive function, quality of life, and physical abilities in 135 generally healthy men and women aged 65-85 years. The clinical trial demonstrated considerable benefits in quality of life and physical abilities for participants in the yoga intervention group, although they did not find significant improvements in cognitive function,
The trial compared three groups: a Hatha yoga group, a walking exercise group, and a wait-list control group. Participants in the yoga and exercise groups were also asked to practice at home. Participants in the yoga group reported significant improvements in various quality-of-life measures, including vitality, energy and fatigue, bodily pain, and social functioning.
While there were no significant effects from either the yoga or exercise interventions on cognitive and alertness outcome measures, the yoga group experienced enhanced physical abilities, such as improved one-legged standing and seated forward-bending flexibility. Furthermore, the yoga intervention led to enhancements in quality-of-life measures related to well-being, energy, and fatigue compared to the control group.
The lack of improvement in cognitive function among seniors in the yoga or exercise group compared to the wait-list control group does not necessarily imply that these practices are not beneficial for cognition. Factors such as the relatively healthy condition of the participants, the intervention period's duration, or ceiling effects may have contributed to these results. Future studies with longer intervention periods or focusing on seniors with cognitive decline may reveal different outcomes.
Overall, the 6-month yoga program demonstrated significant improvements in quality-of-life and physical measures among healthy seniors aged 65-85 years compared to exercise and wait-list control groups. While no significant effects on cognitive function were observed, practicing yoga can still be a valuable addition to a senior's lifestyle, potentially enhancing their overall well-being and physical function.
Study Title: Randomized, controlled, six-month trial of yoga in healthy seniors: effects on cognition and quality of life
Study Link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1457100