Research: OKEN and colleagues,

Listed in Issue 129


OKEN and colleagues, Department of Neurology and Behavioral Neuroscience, Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, OR, USA, have conducted a randomized controlled trial of yoga in the elderly.


There are potential benefits of so-called mind-body techniques on cognitive function because the techniques involve an active attentional or mindfulness component, but this has not been fully explored. The aim of this study was to determine the effect of yoga on cognitive function, fatigue, mood, and quality of life in elderly volunteers.


In this randomized, controlled trial comparing yoga, exercise, and waiting list control groups, 135 generally healthy men and women aged 65-85 years were randomized to 6 months of Hatha yoga class, walking exercise class, or waiting list control. Subjects assigned to classes also were asked to practise at home. Outcome assessments performed at baseline and after the 6-month period included a battery of cognitive measures focused on attention and alertness, the primary outcome measures being performance on the Stroop Test and a quantitative electroencephalogram (EEG) measure of alertness; SF-36 health-related quality of life; Profile of Mood States; Multi-Dimensional Fatigue Inventory; and physical measures related to the interventions.


17 subjects did not finish the 6-month intervention. There were no effects from either of the active interventions on any of the cognitive and alertness outcome measures. The yoga intervention produced improvements in physical measures as well as a number of quality- of-life measures related to sense of well-being and energy compared to controls.


There were improvements in physical and quality-of-life measures among healthy elderly people in the yoga or exercise group compared to the waiting list control group.


Oken BS, Zajdel D, Kishiyama S, Flegal K, Dehen C, Haas M, Kraemer DF, Lawrence J, Leyva J. Randomized, controlled, six-month trial of yoga in healthy seniors: effects on cognition and quality of life. Alternative Therapies in Health & Medicine 12 (1): 40-47, Jan-Feb 2006.

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