The Value of Mind–Body Connection in Physical Activity for Older People

in Journal of Aging and Physical Activity
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  • 1 Institute for Musculoskeletal Health, The University of Sydney and Sydney Local Health District, Sydney, NSW, Australia
  • | 2 Faculty of Medicine and Health, School of Public Health, The University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia
  • | 3 Faculty of Health, School of Public Health, University of Technology Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia
  • | 4 Prevention Research Collaboration, Faculty of Medicine and Health, Sydney School of Public Health, The University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia
  • | 5 Faculty of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, The University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia
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Exercise that targets balance and strength is proven to prevent falls in older age. The Successful AGEing yoga trial is the first large randomized controlled trial to assess the impact of yoga on falls in people aged ≥60 years. We conducted a realist process evaluation to explain the strong participant engagement observed using interviews (21 participants and three yoga instructors) and focus groups (12 participants and four yoga instructors). Results showed that relaxation, breathing, and yoga’s mind–body connection created a satisfying internal focus on bodily sensation which was valued by participants. The mechanisms of mindfulness and embodiment appeared to facilitate this. Mindfulness and embodiment are also linked to, and enhance engagement with, other forms of physical activity. By focusing creatively on these mechanisms, we can develop a range of programs that target improvements in physical and mental health (including reducing falls and fear of falls) and appeal to older people.

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