A new study has found yoga is one of the best ways to improve brain fitness and boost both verbal and visual-spatial memory.
Doing yoga and meditation is known to improve strength, flexibility and keep you feeling calm. But now research by the University of Adelaide has also found it to have a beneficial effect on your memory.
Researchers looked volunteers over the age of 55 who had reported memory problems such as missing appointments, forgetting names and faces and misplacing items.
They split them into two groups, with one carrying out memory exercises such as crossword puzzles and computer-based tasks, and the other doing a weekly hour-long yoga session and meditating for 20 minutes at home.
After three months, researchers found that while verbal memory skills had improved in both groups to a similar degree, the group that did yoga also saw an improvement in their visual-spatial memory. This is the ability to recall locations and navigate while walking and driving.
The study also confirmed that those who practised yoga were less likely to feel depressed or anxious.
The style of yoga that the study participants practiced was Kundalini yoga, which focuses on breathing, meditation and chanting, as well as different poses to improve strength and flexibility.
‘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. ‘We’re converting historical wisdom into the high level evidence required for doctors to recommend therapy to their patients.’
You’re never too old to start doing yoga, as poses can be adapted for each individuals strength and flexibility, and then built up.
And if you or a loved one already has dementia, you can still do it. Alzheimer’s Research UK are running their Yoga For Alzheimer’s events from 12 June through to 21 June (International Yoga Day) this year.