Yoga Helps Prevent Falls Among Elderly, Say Studies

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Fractures and injuries caused by falls are very common among people aged above 65. But several recent studies have shown that yoga helps prevent falls among elderly people.

A new study conducted in Hyderabad, titled, ‘A mixed methods evaluation of yoga as a fall prevention strategy for older people in India’, shows that yoga helps prevent falls among elderly people.

The three-month study involving 50 people aged between 60-81 years, had participants attend 27 yoga sessions, with each session lasting for about an hour. The research showed there was an improvement in time taken by the elderly in rising up from a chair and an increase was observed in the length of steps taken by them while walking.

Speaking to The New Indian Express, Dr D Praveen, Programme Head-Primary Health Care, TGIGH-India said, “Lack of coordination between mind and body along with problems like poor bone and muscle strength are some of the main causes behind the elderly people falling and injuring themselves. Exercise improves muscle and bone strength.”

Added certified yoga trainer, Mansi Gulati, “There is no age restriction as to who can do yoga but one has to ensure that they learn yoga from a trainer who is knowledgeable and experienced, especially when it comes to the elderly. As many hold the notion, yoga is not just about performing asanas but is also about breathing and concentration, which makes the body fit, improves mental health and also improves confidence. For the elderly, it will provide a holistic approach to being fit.”

An earlier study conducted by University of Wisconsin–Madison professor of family medicine Irene Hamrick also reported that the number of falls in older adults dropped 48 percent in the 6 months after a yoga class began, compared to the 6 months previous. The study was published in Complementary Therapies in Medicine.

“Yoga makes you have a strong core,” said Anne Bachner, a member of the study’s community advisory board, “so when moving around in your daily life, you are not just flapping around. You are stable, in control.”

Yet another study conducted in France showed that yoga, tai chi and even waltzing not only helped prevent falls but also lowered injury rates, particularly for the most severe fall-related injuries such as fractured bones. All of the exercises found to be effective for the prevention of injury in the latest study focused on balance training, providing “ample evidence” that they are effective at improving people’s balance, researchers from Hôpital Paul Brousse in Paris said.

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