There were 227 subjects who practiced 12 yoga poses at least every other day for 12 minutes. The average age was 68, and 83 percent had osteoporosis or its precursor, osteopenia. Before the study, the participants had had 109 fractures, reported by them or found on X-rays.
The findings showed improved bone density in the spine and femur of the 227 participants who were moderately or fully compliant with the assigned yoga exercises over the 10-year study period.
Furthermore, a special study of bone quality done on 18 of the participants showed that they had “better internal support of their bones, which is not measured by a bone density scan but is important to resisting fractures,” Dr. Fishman said.
Improvements were seen in bone density in the hip as well, but they were not statistically significant.
The team including Yi-Hsueh Lu of The Rockefeller University, Bernard Rosner of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Dr. Gregory Chang of New York University published their findings in the November issue of the journal Topics of Geriatric Rehabilitation. Although this was an uncontrolled study, the outcomes strongly support the benefits of yoga.
No X-ray detected fractures or serious injuries of any were connected to the activity.
Yoga practice can protect bones in other ways, too. Yoga is good for range of motion, strength, coordination and reduced anxiety,” Dr Fishman said, “all of which contribute to the ability to stay upright and not fall. If you don’t fall, you greatly reduce your risk of a serious fracture.”
This article is based Jane Brody’s longer blog in the New York Times: