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Yoga as a Community-Based Recreational Therapy Intervention for Older Adults: A Pilot Study

Em V. Adams, Brandi M. Crowe, Marieke Van Puymbroeck, Claire K. Allison, Arlene A. Schmidt


The purpose of this multi-method pilot study was to ex-plore the efficacy of a yoga intervention on the leisure constraints and functional fitness of community-dwell-ing older adults. Seven community-dwelling older adults engaged in 16, 60-minute sessions of hatha yoga con-ducted twice a week for eight weeks at a local continuing education center. Individuals enrolled in either a seated yoga class (n=4) or a standing yoga class (n=3). Pre-/ post-measures included physical measures and a sur-vey of leisure constraints. A focus group was conducted with each group to determine their perspectives of par-ticipation. Results indicated significant improvement in lower-body strength and endurance. Balance, upper and lower body flexibility, upper-body strength, and self-re-ported leisure constraints did not show significant im-provements. Qualitative data showed that participants perceived psychosocial and physical benefits to yoga participation including increased energy and motivation to engage in other types of physical activities. Findings indicate the potential for the use of yoga to increase participation in other forms of leisure-time physical activity, but further evaluation of the influence of yoga on leisure constraints is warranted. Implications for recreational therapists are discussed, includ-ing helping clients identify community yoga classes that will best meet their needs based on class size, accessibility, and pace. 

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Community programming; leisure constraints; older adults; recreational therapy; yoga

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