Yoga for HEART (Health Empowerment and Realizing Transformation) intervention to enhance motivation for physical activity in older adults
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of mortality in the U.S. While physical activity can reduce CVD risk, most adults do not engage in adequate physical activity to maintain or improve health. Older adults are less likely to participate in physical activity and experience a greater burden of CVD compared to younger adults. Despite knowledge of motivators and barriers to physical activity, the challenge to reduce cardiovascular risk in the older adult population remains unmet. Older adults face unique and complex barriers to physical activity, including limited social contextual resources and behavioral change processes. Interventions to enhance wellness motivation have demonstrated potential in promoting health behavior change among older adults.
The purpose of this study was to examine the feasibility of the Yoga for HEART (Health Empowerment and Realizing Transformation) Intervention to increase motivation for physical activity and improve cardiovascular health in older adults. A pilot randomized controlled trial design was used. The Intervention group received Yoga for HEART, a 12-week program to foster motivation for health behavior change. The Control group received a 12-week group yoga program that did not contain theory-based components. The intervention was based on Wellness Motivation Theory, conceptualizing health behavior change as dynamic process of intention formation and goal-directed behavior leading to the development of new and positive health patterns. Critical inputs (i.e., empowering education, motivational support, social network support) were designed to promote social contextual resources and behavioral change processes to increase motivation for physical activity and improve cardiovascular health.
Specific Aims were to: (a) examine intervention acceptability, demand, and fidelity, and (b) evaluate intervention efficacy in promoting physical activity and improving cardiovascular health through increased social contextual resources and behavioral change processes. Participants in the Intervention group realized a significant reduction in body mass index (BMI) from baseline to 12 weeks when compared to participants in the Control group. Intervention group participants demonstrated improvement in theoretical mechanisms (i.e., self-knowledge, motivation appraisal, self-regulation, environmental resources) and intended outcomes (i.e., body composition) when compared to Control group participants. Findings from this study support the feasibility of the Yoga for HEART Intervention in older adults.