Repost: Yoga's Impact on Physical Function in those with MCI and Care Partners

Apr 13, 2021 | Dr. Melanie Chandler, HABIT FL Director | @drmelaniechandler

Senior Yoga

We're finishing up a HABIT session in Florida this week, and, as usual, the feedback about Yoga has been excellent.  (Thanks @michellegraffradford !)  Patients and partners have expressed how relaxing the sessions are, and some report improvements in sleep and general stress/anxiety.  It made me think of this post from last year where we studied the longer term impacts of Yoga in HABIT on patients with MCI and their partners:


I'm excited to share the results of one of our many studies that came from our Patient Centered Outcomes Research Initiative (PCORI) trial.  This trial explored the comparative effectiveness of each of the interventions we provide in the HABIT Program.  In other words, we looked at the unique impact of each of our 5 interventions (Calendar training/MSS, Computerized Cognitive Training, Support Group, Wellness Education, and Yoga) on different possible outcomes.  Today I will focus on the outcomes of our Yoga intervention.

Yoga Outcomes in General for HABIT

We've previously posted about the benefit of yoga training on daily functional ability for individuals with MCI.  Compared to all our other interventions, yoga had the strongest impact on how our patients were doing functionally out to 18 months later (that was as long as we followed them in that study).  We've also previously posted how yoga training lowers anxiety and burden as well as improved mood in care partners at 12 months (the longest we measured it in that study).

Yoga and Physical Outcomes

But what about actual physical functioning?  In the trial, we had both patients with MCI and their care partners complete a physical function battery that included brief tasks of strength, balance, and speed.  We had them do this both before and after the interventions of HABIT, and again one year later.

Unfortunately, there was no benefit to physical functioning (walking speed, leg strength, balance) from yoga (or the other interventions) to the person with MCI one year later.  However, care partners who had yoga training had significantly better physical functioning out to the one year follow up than those that had just received the other interventions.

The Take Home Message

So, it seems yoga has many benefits:  better functional ability despite memory loss in patients with MCI, and improved mood, less anxiety and burden, and better physical function in care givers.  Definitely good reasons to recommend yoga training to both our patients with MCI and their loved ones!

Tell us what you think about yoga. What would you say to someone who has never tried it?

Interested in more newsfeed posts like this? Go to the Living with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) blog.

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