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'Yoga or Pilates for Older Adults with Chronic Musculoskeletal Conditions?' by Laura Denham-Jones

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posted on 24.06.2021, 08:44 by Laura Denham-Jones

SPARC 2021 Poster No. 18


Exercise interventions for older adults play an important role in public health as people work into later years. While age can exacerbate musculoskeletal conditions, this can be mitigated with appropriate physical activity.

Yoga and Pilates are the top group exercise choices in the UK and particularly popular among women, who are more prone to experience chronic musculoskeletal conditions. Systematic reviews by the researcher found that both are safe, adaptable interventions for chronic musculoskeletal conditions in a >70% female sample, mean age 50+. Yoga was effective for osteoarthritis and neck pain, improving physical functioning for osteoarthritis and sarcopenia. Pilates was effective for back, neck, osteoarthritis, and osteoporosis pain. Back and neck patients showed significant functional and quality of life effects. Pilates had benefits over a broader range of outcomes than did yoga without specific modifications and neither was found superior to other exercise comparators. This suggests that preferences are not always linked to orthopaedic health outcomes, and a mixed methods approach might lead to a better understanding of what participants experience, and what is important to them, when exercising.

The next phase is a survey of the 50+ population exploring exercise habits, motivators, barriers, and perceived benefits. Finally, a trial and subsequent focus group will compare yoga and Pilates interventions specifically designed for this age group. The aim is to determine best practice in delivery and the relative benefits of age-targeted Pilates and yoga classes, addressing the value of including these on class timetables in the yoga, Pilates, and fitness communities.

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