Effect of a 12-Week Yoga Intervention on Fear of Falling and Balance in Older Adults: A Pilot Study

  • Arlene A. Schmid
    Reprint requests to Arlene A. Schmid, PhD, OTR, Center of Excellence on Implementing Evidence-Based Practice, Richard L. Roudebush Veterans Affairs Medical Center, HSR&D Mail Code 11H, 1481 W 10th St, Indianapolis, IN, 46202
    Veterans Affairs Health Services Research and Development, Center of Excellence on Implementing Evidence-Based Practice, and the Health Services Research and Development Stroke Quality Enhancement Research Initiative, Richard L. Roudebush Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Indianapolis, IN

    Department of Occupational Therapy, Indiana University School of Rehabilitation Science, Indianapolis, IN

    Indiana University Center for Aging Research, Indianapolis, IN
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  • Marieke van Puymbroeck
    Department of Recreation, Park, and Tourism Studies, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN
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  • David M. Koceja
    Department of Kinesiology, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN
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      Schmid AA, Van Puymbroeck M, Koceja DM. Effect of a 12-week yoga intervention on fear of falling and balance in older adults: a pilot study.


      To determine whether fear of falling (FoF) and balance improved after a 12-week yoga intervention among older adults.


      A 12-week yoga intervention single-armed pilot study.


      A retirement community in a medium-sized university town in the Midwest.


      A convenience sample of adults (N=14) over the age of 65 years who all endorsed an FoF.


      Each participant took part in a biweekly 12-week yoga intervention. The yoga sessions included both physical postures and breathing exercises. Postures were completed in sitting and standing positions.

      Main Outcome Measures

      We measured FoF with the Illinois FoF Measure and balance with the Berg Balance Scale. Upper- and lower-body flexibility were measured with the back scratch test and chair sit and reach test, respectively.


      FoF decreased by 6%, static balance increased by 4% (P=.045), and lower-body flexibility increased by 34%.


      The results indicate that yoga may be a promising intervention to manage FoF and improve balance, thereby reducing fall risk for older adults. Rehabilitation therapists may wish to explore yoga as a modality for balance and falls programming; however, future research is needed to confirm the use of yoga in such programming.

      Key Words

      List of Abbreviations:

      BBS (Berg Balance Scale), FoF (fear of falling), LB (lower body), UB (upper body)
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