Nursing home yoga therapy could reduce urinary incontinence in women, researchers suggest

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A specially designed yoga regimen helped incontinent women reduce their urine leakage by up to 70%, researchers announced in a recent article in Female Pelvic Medicine & Reconstructive Surgery.

The pilot trial involved 20 women who were at least 40 years old and experienced urinary incontinence on a daily basis. Half the women participated in a six-week yoga program. These women experienced the dramatic reduction in their leakage, while only 13% of the control group saw their condition improve during the time period, according to the researchers.

The yoga might have benefited the women both by strengthening their pelvic floor muscles and reducing anxiety and depression, which have been linked to incontinence, said lead author Alison Huang, M.D., of the University of California-San Francisco School of Medicine. The program developed by Huang and her colleagues is tailored specifically for older women who have trouble moving, suggesting it could be applied in nursing homes.

"We specifically developed a yoga therapy program that would be safe for older women, including women with minor mobility limitations," Huang said. "So we were partially assessing safety of this program for older women who are at highest risk for having incontinence in the first place."

The routine specifically targeted stress urinary incontinence, in which leakage is linked to activities such as laughing or bending.

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