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Interest in yoga is growing, especially among older adults. This review critically summarizes the current literature to investigate whether physical fitness and function benefits are engendered through the practice of yoga in older adults. A comprehensive search yielded 507 studies; 10 studies with 544 participants (69.6 ± 6.3 yr, 71% female) were included. Large variability in yoga styles and measurement outcomes make it challenging to interpret results across studies. Studies reported moderate improvements for gait (ES = 0.54, 0.80), balance (ES = 0.25–1.61), upper/lower body flexibility (ES = 0.25, 0.70), lower body strength (ES = 0.51), and weight loss (ES = 0.73, 0.99). Yoga may engender improvements in some components of fitness in older adults. However, more evidence is needed to determine its effectiveness as an alternative exercise to promote fitness in older adults. Further investigation into yoga as an exercise activity for older adults is warranted.
Roland is with Health and Exercise Science, and Jakobi and Jones, Human Kinetics, University of British Columbia Okanagan, Kelowna, BC, Canada.