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The use of Yoga for Chronic Health Conditions: Results from the Australian 45 and Up Study

by Sridhar Maddela*, Jane Frawley, Jon Adams, David Sibbritt

Australian Research Centre in Complementary and Integrative Medicine (ARCCIM), University of Technology, Australia



Unprecedented changes to the structure of the Australian population are predicted for the near future, with adults over the age of 65 years estimated to increase by around 50% in the next 15-20 years. The prevalence of chronic diseases among the older adult population is high. In recent years, yoga is being utilised as a means of promoting physical, psychological and social well-being. However, the extent of yoga utilisation among the middle to older aged women in Australia remains unclear


Data were obtained via a survey of 1,925 women aged 45 years and over living in (State of) New South Wales, Australia diagnosed with asthma, depression, diabetes, osteoarthritis and/or osteoporosis, randomly selected from the 45 and Up Study participants.


Consultation with a yoga instructor (3.4%) and self-practiced yoga (4.8%) specifically for chronic illness was relatively low. Positive bivariate associations were found between educational status and women who consulted a yoga instructor (p=0.006) and women who self-practiced yoga (p=0.038) for their condition; a similar association was found between yoga self-practice and marital status (p=0.007). Of the five-chronic illness, only women diagnosed with diabetes were more likely to consult a yoga instructor (OR=3.47) and self-practice yoga (OR=3.32), compared to women with other conditions.


Australian women with asthma, depression, diabetes, osteoarthritis and/or osteoporosis are relatively low-level users of yoga. It is recommended that future research should examine why yoga use is so low compared to other chronic diseases. There is a need for large-scale studies to examine the associations between women with chronic health conditions and yoga use amongst wider health care utilization.

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