Marieke Van Puymbroeck, assistant professor in the Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Studies in IIndiana University's School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation and her team of researchers have found promising results in an investigational study that involvied the practice of yoga by seniors who had a fear of falling. After a 12-week period of time, with two classes per week that was taught by a professional yoga therapist, the study participants reported:
- a reduced fear of falling,
- increased lower body flexibility and
- a reduction in their leisure constraints.
"Our study found that yoga was a feasible intervention with older adults and that they perceived great benefit from it," said Marieke Van Puymbroeck. She discussed some of her findings this month, March 2009, at the International Association of Yoga Therapists' Symposium for Yoga Therapy & Research that was held in Los Angeles.
The study involved 14 men and women with an average age of 78. Five participants had previously fallen.
There was a 90 percent weekly attendance rate, a 6 percent dropout rate, which she said noted, was much lower than most physical activity and yoga studies.
The participants took a class in hatha yoga, a gentle form of yoga that easily can be adapted for individual needs and may also be performed from a seated position. The twice weekly classes each lasted 60 minutes.
After the 12-week class, participants reported a 6 percent reduction in their fear of falling, a 34 percent increase in lower body flexibility, and a statistically significant reduction in leisure constraints.
Participants reported "tremendous benefits," with emerging themes that included the ability to generalize principals of posture to other situations, increased range of motion, increased flexibility and improved balance.
Co-investigators include: Marieke Van Puymbroeck, assistant professor in the Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Studies in IIndiana University's School of Health,David Koceja, Department of Kinesiology in IU Bloomington's School of HPER; and Arlene Schmid, Department of Occupational Therapy and Department of Veterans Affairs, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.