Monday 20 March 2023

Study Finds This Low-Impact Workout Helps Seniors Regain Their Strength

Staying active is important for overall health, but it can become more of a challenge as you age. With that, it’s important to find exercise routines that can support your health while also enhancing other areas of your life.

Now, a new scientific analysis from researchers at Harvard University suggests that yoga is a great option for helping seniors regain their strength and improve mobility. The study, which was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, looked at 33 studies of 2,384 participants over the age of 65. 

The researchers found that yoga—typically Hatha yoga that included Iyengar or chair-based methods—increased the walking speed and ability to rise from a chair. Both of these metrics are linked with less frailty and increased longevity.

While yoga for seniors isn’t a new concept, this is the first time the effects of the practice have been measured against a slew of different metrics doctors use to define frailty in older patients. The researchers found that yoga was the most closely linked with improved walking speed (slow walking speed is associated with a higher risk of death in older adults), along with improved leg strength to help with things like being able to rise from a chair or bed.

Worth noting: Yoga didn’t seem to have as much of an impact on balance, and it also didn’t seem to impact handgrip strength (another marker of frailty).

Up to 50% of adults aged 80 years or older are estimated to be frail and the global prevalence is expected to rise given aging of our population. We need more interventions to help with frailty,” says lead study author Julia Loewenthal, M.D., a geriatrician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School.

There are limited options to improve or prevent frailty,” points out study co-author Ariela Orkaby, M.D., M.P.H., director of frailty research in the Division of Aging at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. “We are hoping to identify strategies that can improve the health of older adults.”

So, why might yoga be helpful for seniors, and what other low-impact exercises should older Americans consider? Here’s the deal.


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