11 May 2016

Yoga and meditation are more effective than memory exercises for cognitive impairment, research shows.

Scientists from Australia and the US compared the 2 approaches in a group of 25 volunteers over the age of 55 who had reported memory issues such as forgetting names and faces, missing appointments or misplacing belongings.

They found that after 3 months both were equally good at improving verbal memory skills, which help people remember names and word lists.

But the yoga provided added benefits in the form of enhanced visual-spatial memory, which comes into play when recalling locations and navigating while walking or driving, and reduced anxiety.

Eleven participants received weekly hour-long memory training sessions and performed exercises ranging from crossword puzzles to computer-based tasks.

The other 14 were given an hour-long yoga session once a week and practised Kirtan Kriya meditation at home for 20 minutes every day.

The researchers found memory improvements coincided with altered neural activity, monitored using fMRI scans

Connectivity changes were seen in the brains of both groups, but only those of the yoga-meditation group were statistically significant.

“Historically and anecdotally, yoga has been thought to be beneficial in ageing well, but this is the scientific demonstration of that benefit,” says lead researcher Harris Eyre, from the University of Adelaide

The study was funded by the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation, based in the US. – AAP

Last Reviewed: 11/05/2016

Reproduced with kind permission from 6minutes.com.au.