Objectives: To examine the impact of an 8-week therapeutic yoga program on postural control, mobility, rising from the floor, and gait speed in community-living older adults.
Design: Pretest/posttest design with an experimental group and an age-matched control group. Changes over time (pretest to posttest) were evaluated in all outcome measures using paired t tests.
Setting: The yoga class was performed at a local continuing care retirement community. All testing was performed at the site. Control-subject pretests and posttests were performed at a second continuing care retirement community.
Participants: Eight research participants, all women, with a mean age of 84 (4.6) years, 8 control participants, 5 women and 3 men, aged 81.3 (4.9) years. Research participants were naive to yoga.
Interventions: An 8-week, 80-minute, biweekly Kripalu yoga class designed specifically for community-dwelling older adults.
Main Outcome Measures: Postural control (Berg Balance Scale), mobility (time to rise from the floor to standing, Timed Up and Go), gait (usual and fast gait speed), and balance confidence (Activities-Specific Balance Scale).
Results: All subjects attended at least 10 of the 16 classes (62% attendance). Posttest differences were found for yoga participants in balance scores (P < .003) and fast walking speed (P < .031). No other significant changes were noted.
Conclusions: Improvements in postural control as measured by the Berg Balance Scale and gait as measured by fast gait speed indicate that research subjects benefited from the yoga intervention. The yoga program designed for this study included the activities of standing, sitting, and lying on the floor. Therefore, subjects perform activities during yoga that can improve postural control, mobility, and gait speed.