Effect of a 12-week yoga intervention on fear of falling and balance in older adults: a pilot study

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2010 Apr;91(4):576-83. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2009.12.018.


Objective: To determine whether fear of falling (FoF) and balance improved after a 12-week yoga intervention among older adults.

Design: A 12-week yoga intervention single-armed pilot study.

Setting: A retirement community in a medium-sized university town in the Midwest.

Participants: A convenience sample of adults (N=14) over the age of 65 years who all endorsed an FoF.

Intervention: Each participant took part in a biweekly 12-week yoga intervention. The yoga sessions included both physical postures and breathing exercises. Postures were completed in sitting and standing positions.

Main outcome measures: We measured FoF with the Illinois FoF Measure and balance with the Berg Balance Scale. Upper- and lower-body flexibility were measured with the back scratch test and chair sit and reach test, respectively.

Results: FoF decreased by 6%, static balance increased by 4% (P=.045), and lower-body flexibility increased by 34%.

Conclusions: The results indicate that yoga may be a promising intervention to manage FoF and improve balance, thereby reducing fall risk for older adults. Rehabilitation therapists may wish to explore yoga as a modality for balance and falls programming; however, future research is needed to confirm the use of yoga in such programming.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / prevention & control*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Fear*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Physical Therapy Modalities
  • Pilot Projects
  • Postural Balance*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Yoga*