Adapted yoga to improve physical function and health-related quality of life in physically-inactive older adults: a randomised controlled pilot trial

BMC Geriatr. 2017 Jun 23;17(1):131. doi: 10.1186/s12877-017-0520-6.


Background: Yoga is a holistic therapy of expanding popularity, which has the potential to produce a range of physical, mental and social benefits. This trial evaluated the feasibility and effects of an adapted yoga programme on physical function and health-related quality of life in physically-inactive older adults.

Methods: In this randomised controlled pilot trial, 52 older adults (90% female; mean age 74.8 years, SD 7.2) were randomised 1:1 to a yoga programme or wait-list control. The yoga group (n = 25) received a physical activity education booklet and were invited to attend ten yoga sessions during a 12-week period. The control group (n = 27) received the education booklet only. Measures of physical function (e.g., Short Physical Performance Battery; SPPB), health status (EQ-5D) and mental well-being (Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-being Scale; WEMWBS) were assessed at baseline and 3 months. Feasibility was assessed using course attendance and adverse event data, and participant interviews.

Results: Forty-seven participants completed follow-up assessments. Median class attendance was 8 (range 3 to 10). At the 3-month follow-up, the yoga group had a higher SPPB total score compared with the control group (mean difference 0.9, 95% confidence interval [CI] -0.3 to 2.0), a faster time to rise from a chair five times (mean difference - 1.73 s, 95% CI -4.08 to 0.62), and better performance on the chair sit-and-reach lower-limb flexibility test (mean difference 5 cm, 95% CI 0 to 10). The yoga group also had superior health status and mental well-being (vs. control) at 3 months, with mean differences in EQ-5D and WEMWBS scores of 0.12 (95% CI, 0.03 to 0.21) and 6 (95% CI, 1 to 11), respectively. The interviews indicated that participants valued attending the yoga programme, and that they experienced a range of benefits.

Conclusions: The adapted yoga programme appeared to be feasible and potentially beneficial in terms of improving mental and social well-being and aspects of physical function in physically-inactive older adults. An appropriately-powered trial is required to confirm the findings of the present study and to determine longer-term effects.

Trial registration: NCT02663726 .

Keywords: Aged; Mental health; Mind-body therapies; Physical fitness; Randomised controlled trial.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Activity*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Quality of Life*
  • Sedentary Behavior
  • Yoga*

Associated data