- Neha Gothe, Wayne State University; Edward McAuley, University of Illinois; Arthur Kramer, Beckman Institute
- July 1, 2014
Hatha Yoga Boosts Brain Function in Older Adults
Practicing hatha yoga three times a week for eight weeks improved sedentary older adults' performance on diverse cognitive tasks relevant to everyday life.
This study involved 108 adults (aged 55-79). 61 attended hatha yoga classes - the others met for the same number and length of sessions for stretching and toning exercises. At the end of the eight weeks, the yoga group was speedier and more accurate on tests of information recall, mental flexibility and task-switching than it had been before the intervention. The stretching-and-toning group saw no significant change in cognitive performance. The differences were not the result of differences in age, gender, social status or other demographic factors. "These studies suggest that yoga has an immediate quieting effect on the sympathetic nervous system and on the body's response to stress," said one of the research directors. "Since we know that stress and anxiety can affect cognitive performance, the eight-week yoga intervention may have boosted participants' performance by reducing their stress." Researchers also noted that results involved a fairly short-term intervention, and follow-up research important.
Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences