Doing yoga regularly helps protect elderly from falls

Falls are emerging as a major public health issue in India, Around the world, it is a significant cause of mortality and illnesses. According to studies, 75% of fall injuries take place in low and middle-income countries and as the population ages, the impact is only going to rise.

A new study by the George Institute for Global Health says yoga could help prevent falls among the elderly, restore balance and mobility, and thereby prove effective in preventing injuries.

Called A Mixed Methods Evaluation of Yoga as a Fall Prevention Strategy for Older People in India, the study was led by a team of the Injury Division at the George Institute for Global Health in Sydney.

The study was done over three months and involved 50 people between the ages of 60 to 81 years. Of these, 29 were women. The participants attended 27 yoga sessions, with each session lasting for one hour on average.

Researchers noticed an improvement in the time taken by the elderly in rising up from a chair. There was also an increase observed in the length of steps taken by them while walking. Through group discussions and interviews, it was also found that the fear of falling had reduced as compared to before, among the elderly who participated in the study.

The findings show that yoga is a holistic approach to healthy ageing. By positioning yoga as healthy ageing and not just for fall prevention, it could help to engage with more older people who have many health challenges.

The results provide an impetus for further research into evaluating yoga as a fall prevention strategy in India, say experts.

This was a pilot study with small sample size which showed a positive impact. Now, we want to do a larger study using randomised control trials to prove effectiveness of yoga - Dr D Praveen, Programme Head, Primary Health Care, George Institute for Global Health India

The George Institute India partners with over 60 national and international institutions such as the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, University of Hyderabad, and has affiliations with University of New South Wales, Oxford, and Peking.

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