Research: OKEN and others,

Listed in Issue 127


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


There are potential benefits of mind-body techniques on cognitive function because they involve an active mindfulness component. The aim of this study was to determine the effect of yoga on cognitive function, fatigue, mood, and quality of life in elderly people.


In this randomized, controlled trial, yoga, exercise, and waiting-list control groups were compared. 128 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 practice 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.


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 (eg, timed 1-legged standing, forward flexibility) as well as a number of quality-of-life measures related to sense of well-being and energy and fatigue compared to controls.


There were no relative improvements of cognitive function among healthy seniors in the yoga or exercise group compared to the waiting-list control group. Those in the yoga group showed significant improvement in quality-of-life and physical measures compared to exercise and wait-list control groups.


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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