Improve Psychological Health and Quality of Life of Older Adults with Meditative Movement Practices.

Improve Psychological Health and Quality of Life of Older Adults with Meditative Movement Practices.


By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.


Mindful techniques can help older adults feel a sense of connection to their body. This can be critical for creating optimal health, even as they manage the ongoing changes in their body.” – Karen Fabian


The aging process involves a systematic progressive decline in every system in the body, the brain included. This includes our cognitive (mental) abilities which decline with age including impairments in memory, attention, and problem-solving ability. It is inevitable and cannot be avoided. Research has found that mindfulness practices reduce the deterioration of the brain that occurs with aging restraining the loss of neural tissue. Indeed, the brains of practitioners of meditation and yoga have been found to degenerate less with aging than non-practitioners. Tai Chi and Qigong have also been shown to be beneficial in slowing or delaying physical and mental decline with aging. The research findings are accumulating suggesting that a summarization of what has been learned is called for.


In today’s Research News article “Effects of Mind-Body Interventions Involving Meditative Movements on Quality of Life, Depressive Symptoms, Fear of Falling and Sleep Quality in Older Adults: A Systematic Review with Meta-Analysis.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: ) Weber and colleagues  review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of the published randomized controlled studies (RCTs) of the effectiveness of the mind-body practices of Yoga, Tai Chi. Qigong, and Pilates to improve the psychological health and quality of life in the elderly (aged 60 and over). They identified 37 published RCTs, 21 of which employed Tai Chi. 5 Qigong, 10 Yoga, and 3 Pilates.


They separated studies employing Tai Chi and Qigong from those employing Yoga and Pilates. They report that the published studies found that all of the meditative movement practices significantly improved the quality of life, physical functioning, and sleep quality and reduced the fear of falling of older adults with small effect sizes. Only the Tai Chi and Qigong practices produced significant improvements in psychological functioning and social functioning while only the Yoga and Pilates produced significant improvements in depression. For Tai Chi and Qigong, they further report that practice occurring 3 or more times per week resulted in larger improvements in quality of life and depression than those with less than 3 practices per week.


These findings suggest that meditative movement practices have wide ranging benefits, albeit with relatively small effect sizes, on the physical, psychological, and social functioning of older adults and improve their overall quality of life. These are important benefits for the elderly helping to slow the progressive decline seen with aging. These practices when properly performed and supervised have very few adverse effects. Hence, they should be recommended for aging individuals as safe and effective practices to slow the progressive decline and improve their overall well-being.


So, improve psychological health and quality of life of older adults with meditative movement practices.


When you age mindfully, you are fully aware and accepting of the challenges that come with the aging process, but you’re also aware of—and seizing—the opportunities that come with being blessed with what I call your ‘longevity bonus,’” – Andrea Brandt.


CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies


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Study Summary


Weber, M., Schnorr, T., Morat, M., Morat, T., & Donath, L. (2020). Effects of Mind-Body Interventions Involving Meditative Movements on Quality of Life, Depressive Symptoms, Fear of Falling and Sleep Quality in Older Adults: A Systematic Review with Meta-Analysis. International journal of environmental research and public health, 17(18), 6556.



Background: The aim of the present systematic meta-analytical review was to quantify the effects of different mind–body interventions (MBI) involving meditative movements on relevant psychological health outcomes (i.e., quality of life (QoL), depressive symptoms, fear of falling (FoF) and sleep quality) in older adults without mental disorders. Methods: A structured literature search was conducted in five databases (Ovid, PsycINFO, PubMed, SPORTDiscus, Web of Science). Inclusion criteria were: (i) the study was a (cluster) randomized controlled trial, (ii) the subjects were aged ≥59 years without mental illnesses, (iii) an intervention arm performing MBI compared to a non-exercise control group (e.g., wait-list or usual care), (iv) psychological health outcomes related to QoL, depressive symptoms, FoF or sleep quality were assessed and (v) a PEDro score of ≥5. The interventions of the included studies were sub-grouped into Tai Chi/Qigong (TCQ) and Yoga/Pilates (YP). Statistical analyses were conducted using a random-effects inverse-variance model. Results: Thirty-seven randomized controlled trials (RCTs) (comprising 3224 participants) were included. Small to moderate-but-significant overall effect sizes favoring experimental groups (Hedges’ g: 0.25 to 0.71) compared to non-exercise control groups were observed in all outcomes (all p values ≤ 0.007), apart from one subdomain of quality of life (i.e., social functioning, p = 0.15). Interestingly, a significant larger effect on QoL and depressive symptoms with increasing training frequency was found for TCQ (p = 0.03; p = 0.004). Conclusions: MBI involving meditative movements may serve as a promising opportunity to improve psychological health domains such as QoL, depressive symptoms, FoF and sleep quality in older adults. Hence, these forms of exercise may represent potential preventive measures regarding the increase of late-life mental disorders, which need to be further confirmed by future research.


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