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J Altern Complement Med. 2016 Feb;22(2):125-33. doi: 10.1089/acm.2014.0091. Epub 2015 Sep 23.

Hatha Yoga and Executive Function: A Systematic Review.

Author information

1
1 Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, University of Waterloo , Waterloo, Ontario, Canada .
2
2 Department of Kinesiology, University of Waterloo , Waterloo, Ontario, Canada .

Abstract

INTRODUCTION:

Recent reviews have documented the beneficial effects of seated meditation on executive function (EF). However, there has yet to be a comprehensive review on the effects of Hatha yoga, a moving meditation, on EF.

OBJECTIVE:

To examine the empirical literature on the effects of Hatha yoga on EF.

METHODS:

MEDLINE, Scopus, and PsycINFO databases were searched for experimental studies (between- or within-subject designs) testing the effects of Hatha yoga (acute bouts, short-term interventions, longer-term interventions) on EF.

RESULTS:

A total of 11 published studies met eligibility criteria: Three studies involved healthy adults, 2 studies involved healthy older adults (n = 2), 1 study involved children and adolescents, and 5 studies involved medical (n = 4) or forensic (n = 1) populations. In healthy adults, 2 of 3 studies suggested that acute bouts of Hatha yoga improved EF; however, 1 study using a short-term intervention found no improvements in EF. Among healthy older adults, 1 study provided evidence that Hatha yoga improves EF. In child/adolescent samples, 1 study supported the contention that Hatha yoga improves EF after short-term interventions. Among medical populations, EF improved in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus and in 1 of 3 studies involving patients with multiple sclerosis. The sole study involving impulsive prisoners showed positive effects on EF with a short-term intervention.

CONCLUSION:

Hatha yoga shows promise of benefit for EF in healthy adults, children, adolescents, healthy older adults, impulsive prisoners, and medical populations (with the exception of multiple sclerosis). However, more good-quality studies that evaluate the efficacy of Hatha yoga's effects on EF are essential to build on this evidence base.

PMID:
26398441
DOI:
10.1089/acm.2014.0091
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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