Yoga's effect on Falls in rural older adults

Complementary Therapies in Medicine
Volume 35, December 2017, Pages 57-63


Yoga’s effect on falls in rural, older adults

Author links open overlay panel IreneHamrickaPaulMrossbNateChristopherbcPaul D.Smitha

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Unintentional falls affect 30% of people over age 65 years. Yoga has been shown to improve balance. We designed this study to examine if yoga reduces falls.


We conducted 16 sessions of Hatha yoga over 8 weeks. Participants were randomly assigned to practice 10 min of yoga daily at home in addition to 5-min relaxation exercises or relaxation exercises only (control group).


Of the 38 participants completing the intervention, 15 participants reported a total of 27 falls in the 6-months before the study, compared to 13 participants sustaining 14 falls in the 6 months from the start of the study (p < 0.047), without difference between yoga home-exercise and home relaxation-only groups.
Compared to baseline scores, all participants improved on the Berg Balance Scale (53–54 out of 56, p = 0.002), the Functional Gait Assessment (22.9–25.8 out of 30 points, p < 0.001), and the Dynamic Gait Index (20.6–22.4 out of 24 points, p < 0.001). Right leg stand time improved from a mean of 13.3 s to 17.1 s (p = 0.020) and standing forward reach distance from 26.0 cm to 29.6 cm (p < 0.001). Without difference between groups.
Confidence, with the Activities-specific Balance Confidence Scale, increased in the yoga home-exercise group (88%–93%, p = 0.037) compared to 90% unchanged from pre-intervention in the home relaxation-only group.


Yoga classes reduce self-reported falls and improve balance measures. The addition of home yoga exercises did not enhance benefit over relaxation exercise only.


ResearchPaul MrossComment