The Impact of a Short-Term Iyengar Yoga Program on the Health and Well-Being of Physically Inactive Older Adults
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Background: With the current challenge of rapidly aging populations, practices such as yoga may help older adults stay physically active, healthy, and fulfilled. Methods: The impact of an 8-week Iyengar yoga program on the holistic health and well-being of physically inactive people aged 55 years and over was assessed. Thirty-eight older adults (mean age 73.21 ± 8.38 years; 19 intervention, 19 control) engaged in either twice-weekly yoga classes or con- tinued their usual daily routines. Physical health measures were muscle strength, active range of motion, respiratory function (FEV1), resting blood pressure, and immune function (salivary IgA and lysozyme). Self-perceived general, physical, mental, spiritual, and social health and well-being were assessed with the Life’s Odyssey Questionnaire and the SF12v2™ Health Survey. Results: Muscle strength, active range of motion, physical well-being, and aspects of mental well-being (emotional well-being and self-care) improved significantly in the yoga group (p < .05). Median changes in most of these variables were also significantly different from those in the control group. Conclusions: Participation in Iyengar yoga programs by older people is beneficial for health and well-being, and greater availability of such programs could improve quality of life.