Graham J. McDougall Jr, Ph.D., R.N.
Yoga is a popular mind body exercise phenomenon used to reduce anxiety, stress, and chronic illness. This study was novel because the participants not only received memory training, but also received yoga training.
Each class began with seated stretching, in conjunction with focused breathing. “Asana” or postures were modified to each participant’s skill level or overall mobility and physical condition. The yoga portion of the session culminated in a guided meditation, visualization-oriented, relaxation exercise using mountain, river, and ocean scenarios. These scenarios concluded with 10 breaths, counted off by the instructor and performed in unison.
Using a quasi-experimental pre-post design, we delivered 12 hours of Senior WISE (Wisdom Is Simply Exploration) memory training that included a 30-minute yoga component before each training session. Participants attended training sessions two times a week over 4 weeks. We recruited 133 older adults between the ages of 53-96 years from four retirement communities, however fifty individuals dropped out of the program. The mean age of our participants was 80.56 ± 8.82 years. Eighty-three participants completed post-test. Those individuals who completed made significant gains in memory performance, instrumental activities of daily living, and memory self-efficacy, and had fewer depressive symptoms.
The addition of yoga was a novel aspect for our participants. The combined memory training and yoga intervention had the added benefits that lead to significant improvements in memory performance and reduced depressive symptoms among the participants in the study. The octogenarians that participated in this unique intervention were able to draw on the cognitive reserve that allowed them to overcome their everyday memory difficulties. Memory training and yoga may be used in combination with other behavioral techniques (i.e., improved sleep protocols) to help older adults.
- Goyanes, C. (2016, January). The New Science on the Health Benefits of Yoga. Huffpost Healthy Living, The Blog, 07/24/2015 04:58 pm ET | Updated Jan 26, 2016 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sonimacom/yoga-health-benefits_b_7853856.html
- McDougall, G. J.,Vance, D., Wayde, E., Ford, K., & Ross, J. (2015). Memory training plus Yoga for older adults. Journal of Neuroscience Nursing, 47(3), 178-188. PMID: 25943999