This blog was first published on the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Dissemination Centre Discover Portal. Read the corresponding Age and Ageing paper Yoga-based exercise improves health-related quality of life and mental well-being in older people: a systematic review of randomised controlled trials.
Yoga-based exercise offers a safe and accessible way to improve health-related quality of life and mental well-being for people over 60. Evidence for a moderate benefit of yoga in later life now extends beyond improved balance and flexibility.
Yoga includes stretches, poses, breathing routines and meditation. This review focused on the physical exercise/activity components. Most of the 12 included trials took place in Western countries and classes were all run by qualified yoga instructors as in the UK. Class attendance was high for eight weeks or more (50 to 96%). However, women outnumbered men by three to one, implying that yoga classes may need adapting to appeal to older men.
Yoga classes are widely available and could offer an accessible way to improve older people’s activity levels and well-being. The research was moderate to high quality, but it cannot yet show exactly how much yoga or which kind works best for particular groups of people. However, the good news is that these approaches seem effective.