Start doing yoga, meditation to reduce risk of Alzheimer's disease

A new research suggests that doing yoga and meditation regularly could be a simple, safe and low-cost solution to improving brain fitness.

Last Updated: May 11, 2016, 20:52 PM IST

Zee Media Bureau

New York: Do you want to improve memory or reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease? If yes, then start practicing yoga exercises as it is the simple solution to improve your brain function.

A new research suggests that doing yoga and meditation regularly could be a simple, safe and low-cost solution to improving brain fitness.

Researchers during the study found that practising a three-month course of Kundalini yoga and Kirtan Kriya meditation can help minimise the cognitive and emotional problems that often leads to developing of memory loss diseases like Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia.

Kirtan Kriya has been practiced for hundreds of years in India as a way to prevent cognitive decline in older adults. It involves chanting, hand movements and visualisation of light.

The findings showed that yoga and meditation was even more effective than the memory enhancement exercises that have been considered the gold standard for managing mild cognitive impairment.

"Memory training was comparable to yoga with meditation in terms of improving memory, but yoga provided a broader benefit than memory training because it also helped with mood, anxiety and coping skills," said the study's senior author Helen Lavretsky, professor at University of California, Los Angeles, US.

The study was published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

The study of 25 participants, all over the age of 55, measured changes not just in behaviour but also in brain activity.

Eleven participants received one hour a week of memory enhancement training and spent 20 minutes a day performing memory exercises -- verbal and visual association and other practical strategies for improving memory, based on research-backed techniques.

The other 14 participants took a one-hour class once a week in Kundalini yoga and practiced 20 Kirtan Kriya meditation at home for 20 minutes each day.

After 12 weeks, the researchers saw similar improvements among participants in both groups in verbal memory skills -- which come into play for remembering names and lists of words.

But those who had practiced yoga and meditation had better improvements than the other participants in visual-spatial memory skills, which come into play for recalling locations and navigating while walking or driving.

"Historically and anecdotally, yoga has been thought to be beneficial in ageing well, but this is the scientific demonstration of that benefit," lead author of the study Harris Eyre, doctoral candidate at University of Adelaide in Australia, said.

"We're converting historical wisdom into the high level of evidence required for doctors to recommend therapy to their patients," Eyre noted.

(With IANS inputs)