elders, elderly, geriatrics, exercise, integrative, yoga, tai chi, qi gong, west michigan, availability, accessibility, medicine, mental, health, lifestyle, aging, meditation, benefits, spiritual, mindfulness


Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Geriatrics | Public Health Education and Promotion


Professor Jane Toot


There are many physical and mental benefits of conventional exercise and they have been well-studied. However, integrative exercise practices aim to encompass more than physical fitness. There is also a spiritual/ethical component when taking into account aspects such as meditation and mindfulness. By examining a number of different health domains, we can study whether the benefits of yoga and tai chi extend beyond the benefits of exercise more broadly. While the short-term physical fitness benefits of other cardio and strength training may exceed those of integrative practices, yoga and tai chi appear to be equally as beneficial in the long run. Yoga and tai chi also seem to be better as a therapy for other health conditions such as stroke and cancer treatment. In terms of mental health, many forms of exercise have been shown to combat anxiety, stress, and depression but studies conducted on yoga show that it may have implications as an effective treatment for other mental disorders such as schizophrenia and PTSD. Finally, while well-being and mindfulness are higher following many forms of exercise, other forms of mindfulness, such as body-awareness, are specific to the integrative practices. The present study examines how benefits, such as these, specific to integrative exercise can be applied to geriatric populations. We also investigate the accessibility and awareness of these forms of exercise in the West Michigan community and propose how to implement these forms of exercise to better the lifestyle of elderly populations.