An observational study of the health benefits of yoga or tai chi
...compared to Aerobic Exercise in Community-Dwelling Middle-Aged and Older Adults
Divya Siddarth, Prabha Siddarth, Ph.D., and Helen Lavretsky, M.D., M.S.
Mood and sleep disturbances are common problems in middle-aged and older adults. This observational study explored whether participation in mind-body exercise classes (e.g., yoga and Tai Chi) that have elements of both physical activity and mindfulness is associated with better mood, mental health, and sleep compared to aerobic physical exercise.
Forty-two middle-aged and older adults (mean age 64.6 (SD = 13.6) years) were recruited from the West Valley YMCA, Reseda, CA. Twenty individuals participated in a yoga (N=8) or Tai Chi (N=12) class and 22 participated in an aerobic exercise class. All classes met twice a week for 60 minutes and all participants attended at least one 60-minute class per week. All participants signed a written informed consent form in accordance with the procedures set by the LA County Office of Education Institutional Review Board.
In addition to demographic data (age, gender, educational level, ethnicity, height and weight), participants were asked about their class attendance, number of years of participation and class satisfaction on a scale of 1 to 10. All participants were administered the following instruments: (1) the Profile of Mood States (POMS)1, (2) the Short Form Health Survey-12 (SF-12)2, and (3) the Patient Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System3 Pain Intensity and Sleep Disturbance Short Form questionnaires. The two groups (mind-body vs. aerobic exercise) were compared on demographic and class participation variables using two-sample t-tests for continuous and chi-squared tests for categorical measures. Because of the significant difference in gender distribution, all further analyses controlled for gender. Two separate multivariate analyses of covariance (MANCOVA) were used to compare the two groups, one with the POMS subscales and the other with the SF-12 scores as the dependent variables. Significant MANCOVAs were followed up by post hoc univariate analyses. We compared the Pain and Sleep T-scores using two separate ANCOVAs. We estimated effect sizes (Cohen’s d) for all group differences.
...This study thus demonstrates that participants in mind-body exercise show significantly better mood, mental health, and sleep compared to participants in aerobic exercise classes.
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