Muscle weakness and impaired balance are risk factors underlying many falls and fall related injuries experienced by older people . Recent studies have demonstrated the capacity for individualised yoga to reduce age-related balance decline and reduce fall-related injuries.
A 2014 systematic review found that yoga practice can:
> Enhance balance and postural control, based on objective assessment
> Reduce the incidence of balance-related falls
> Reduce fear of falling
This supports other research in examining individualised exercise programs, which have shown that exercise can improve balance and mobility function and reduce the likelihood for falls among older adults with a history of falling .
Yoga typically adopts postures that include standing, sitting, squatting, kneeling, twisting, and upper limb loading. Combined with specific mindfulness techniques and neurocognitive strategies, these postures improve postural control, mobility, and gait speed , .
Four systematic reviews and one case-control outline the use of yoga to improve balance in the pediatric population. The two systematic reviews found evidence of improved balance in children through the use of yoga , . The remaining systematic reviews which included adult and children also noted improved balance through yoga .
1. Jeter, P. E., Nkodo, A. F., Moonaz, S. H., & Dagnelie, G. (2014). A systematic review of yoga for balance in a healthy population. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 20(4), 221-232.
2. Shumway-Cook, A., Gruber, W., Baldwin, M., & Liao, S. (1997). The effect of multidimensional exercises on balance, mobility, and fall risk in community-dwelling older adults. Physical therapy, 77(1), 46-57.
3. Zettergren, K. K., Lubeski, J. M., & Viverito, J. M. (2011). Effects of a yoga program on postural control, mobility, and gait speed in community-living older adults: a pilot study. Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy, 34(2), 88-94.
4. Gauchard, G. C., Jeandel, C., Tessier, A., & Perrin, P. P. (1999). Beneficial effect of proprioceptive physical activities on balance control in elderly human subjects. Neuroscience letters, 273(2), 81-84.
5. Birdee, G. S., Yeh, G. Y., Wayne, P. M., Phillips, R. S., Davis, R. B., & Gardiner, P. (2009). Clinical applications of yoga for the pediatric population: a systematic review. Academic Pediatrics, 9(4), 212-220. e219, [1a].
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7. Jeter, P. E., Nkodo, A.-F., Moonaz, S. H., & Dagnelie, G. (2014). A systematic review of yoga for balance in a healthy population. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, [1b].