Aging produces several respiratory limitations and reduces tolerance to physical efforts, sometimes leading to pulmonary diseases in the elderly. The literature draws attention to the possible benefits of Yoga practice among the elderly, presenting evidence for significant improvements in quality of life. It was hypothesized that yoga practice can improve respiratory function in the elderly. The effects of a yoga program on pulmonary volumes and respiratory muscle strength were verified in 36 elderly women divided into a yoga group [YG] (63.1 ± 13.3 years of age) and a control group (61.0 ± 6.9 years of age). Maximal inspiratory and expiratory pressure (MIP and MEP) were assessed by a manovacuometer and tidal volume (VT), vital capacity (VC) and minute ventilation (VE) were measured by a ventilometer. The program comprised 65 min sessions, 3 times/week during 12 weeks. The heart rate and respiratory rate decreased significantly in the YG (76-39 ± 8-03 vs. 74-61±10.26 bpm and 18.61 ± 3.15 vs. 16.72 ± 3.12 resp/min, respectively). In the YG, VT and VE increased significantly (0.55 ± 0.22 vs. 0.64 ± 0.2 ml and 9.19 ± 2.39 vs. 10.05 ± 2.11 ml, respectively), as well as VC (1.48 ± 0.45 vs. 2.03 ± 0.72 ml). Improvements were also found in MIP and MEP in the YG (62.17 ± 14.77 vs. 73.06 ± 20.16 cmH2O and 80.56 ± 23.94 vs. 86.39 ± 20.16 cmH2O, respectively). It was concluded that a 12-week yoga program significantly improves pulmonary function of aged women.
Keywords: elderly; respiratory strength; respiratory volumes; women; yoga.