Does yoga compare with cognitive behavioural therapy for anxious older people?

The following research may be helpful for people struggling with anxious thoughts or low mood in later life.

It’s not uncommon to experience anxiety as we get older. Nagging thoughts fearing the worst loop around in our heads. We may withdraw from family and friends, develop sleep difficulties or physical complaints that stop us from enjoying life. The symptoms manifest in different ways.

Two different approaches found to help anxiety are cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and yoga. CBT, a talking therapy, helps identify and reframe negative thinking patterns, whilst yoga focuses on movement, breathwork and mindfulness.

Researchers from Wake Forest University compared the two approaches to see which helped anxious older adults the best.

In the study, 500 adults aged over 60 were divided into two groups. One-half were assigned to a CBT or yoga group; the other half chose CBT or Yoga.

CBT consisted of 10 weekly phone calls with a therapist and a workbook detailing techniques and exercises to practice at home.

Yoga classes were held twice a week for 10 weeks with instructions for 15-20 minutes of home practice five times a week.

After 11 weeks, meaningful improvements in fatigue, social participation, anxiety, and depressive symptoms were found in yoga and CBT groups compared to baseline. Moreover, the benefits remained 6 months after the intervention ended.

All participants noticed sleep improvements; however, CBT had a more significant effect on sleep than yoga.

The study’s results suggest options to help older people manage their mental health; if one approach doesn’t work, don’t give up, it’s worth trying something else.

The research is published in The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.

Reference: Danauer. S.C., Miller. M.E., Divers. J. et al. (2022). Long-term effects of cognitive behavioural therapy and yoga for worried older adults. The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry,30(9),979-990. doi:https://10.1016/j.jagp.2022.02.002

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: