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Yoga can improve health-related quality of life and mental well-being of older adults

Tulloch A, Bombell H, Dean C, et al. Yoga-based exercise improves health-related quality of life and mental well-being in older people: a systematic review of randomised controlled trials. Age Ageing. 2018;47:537-44.

Review question

In adults 60 years of age and older, what is the effect of yoga-based exercise on health-related quality of life and mental well-being?


Yoga is considered a mind–body exercise. It combines movement and holding poses with focused breathing and meditation. Yoga allows for adaptations based on ability, such as the use of chairs, which means that most people can participate. Practicing yoga has been shown to reduce stress and improve some health conditions.

How the review was done

The researchers did a systematic review, searching for randomized controlled trials that were published up to January 2017.

They found 12 studies, including 752 people.

The key features of the studies were:

  • the average age ranged from 60 to 75 years, and 74% were women;
  • people did any type of yoga for any duration or any frequency. Yoga sessions were 45 to 90 minutes, with 1 to 3 sessions per week for 8 to 24 weeks. All programs were supervised by a trained yoga therapist or instructor. 7 of the 12 studies included home practice without an instructor; and
  • yoga was compared with no intervention, usual care, being added to a waitlist, or education about exercise.

What the researchers found

The studies were considered to be of moderate to high quality.

Compared with not doing yoga:

  • yoga improved health-related quality of life by a moderate amount; and
  • improved mental well-being by a small amount.

No serious adverse events were reported.


In adults 60 years of age and older, yoga can improve health-related quality of life and mental well-being.

Yoga vs no yoga in people 60 years of age and older


Number of studies (number of people)

Effects of yoga

Health-related quality of life*

12 (752)

People who did yoga had a moderate improvement in health-related quality of life compared with people who did not do yoga.

Mental well-being

12 (752)

People who did yoga had a small improvement in mental well-being compared with people who did not do yoga.

*Health-related quality of life includes physical, mental, emotional, and social functioning, and how these affect overall health status.

Keywords: covid-19, confinement

Related Topics


Randomized controlled trials
Studies where people are assigned to one of the treatments purely by chance.
Systematic review
A comprehensive evaluation of the available research evidence on a particular topic.

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DISCLAIMER These summaries are provided for informational purposes only. They are not a substitute for advice from your own health care professional. The summaries may be reproduced for not-for-profit educational purposes only. Any other uses must be approved by the McMaster Optimal Aging Portal (

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