A new study published in the European Review of Aging and Physical Activity presents that yoga exercise can prevent dementia and is more effective than cardio and strength training in positively impacting the cognitive functions of the brain in older individuals.
Strength training and cardio training were found to have a relatively low positive effect on cognitive abilities.
On the other hand, Yoga had a slightly higher (moderate) positive effect on the brain's capacity to process and store information. Dr. Peter Blomstrand, one of the lead researchers in the study, expresses his surprise:
"We didn't expect that! We thought fitness training would have a greater impact on cognition than Yoga. If Yoga were a pill, we as doctors would consider prescribing it to many people."
Although the difference in effect between the exercise types is not dramatic, Dr. Peter Blomstrand points out that it is noticeable in the short term for the individual. A 60-year-old who practices yoga can expect to experience an improvement in attention and memory, while someone who jogs may not experience the same level of improvement.
The researchers go so far as to suggest that regular yoga practice, ideally at least three times a week, may have the potential to prevent some forms of dementia. One possible explanation for yoga's positive effects on the brain, according to the researchers, is the unique combination of physical exercises and breathing control. This combination affects the nervous system and has a calming effect on blood pressure and heart rate. This in turn helps to manage and counteract stress, improving attention, memory and other cognitive functions.
"We are always happy to see high quality research and strengthened evidence! Our Swedish method of medical yoga - MOSI is exactly what Dr. Blomstrand refers to as a tablet. It is standardized, evidence-based, safe, cost-effective and personalized. Our hope is that MOSI can be offered to all patients.", says Pär Krutzén, CEO of the MediYoga Institute.