Date Presented 04/20/2023

Telehealth interventions may provide feasible solutions to address barriers faced by rural-dwelling older adults. An 8-week telehealth yoga intervention showed significant improvements in occupational performance and balance confidence.

Primary Author and Speaker: Jessica Schmidt

Additional Authors and Speakers: Kristen A. Pickett, Kendra Ison, Emily Deboer

Contributing Authors: Anne Mortensen, Paul Mross, Susan Andreae, Kendra Ison, Emily A. DeBoer, Kristen A. Pickett

PURPOSE: Rural environments impose barriers to accessing meaningful physical activity, including travel distance and limited public transportation. Telehealth-delivered programming is one potential solution to these challenges (Little et al., 2021). The purpose of this study was to assess the feasibility and effectiveness of an 8-week telehealth adapted yoga intervention.

DESIGN: Experimental crossover design with immediate start and waitlist control groups. Recruitment was done in partnership with Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRC) in 5 rural WI counties. Inclusion criteria: 60 yrs or older; no yoga in previous 6 months; ability to independently ambulate; willingness to and no contraindications for exercise; minimum 20/40 vision; stable internet connection; no extended absences; and willingness to participate in online data collection and intervention.

METHODS: 38 (5 male, age 71.44 +/- 6.6 years) rural older adults were enrolled in the study. Synchronous 75-minute yoga classes were held over Zoom twice a week for 8-weeks. A Zero Class was used to practice connecting to Zoom and to establish optimal camera placement. A research team member and ADRC rep attended each virtual class to troubleshoot any technology issues and monitor participant safety. Outcome measures were assessed before and after the intervention. Participants provided consent via DocuSign and were mailed the Falls Efficacy Scale (FES) and the Activities-specific Balance Confidence Scale (ABC). Zoom appointments were scheduled to complete the Canadian Occupational Performance Measure (COPM; Law et al., 1990).

RESULTS: COPM performance and satisfaction scores improved for the top three self-identified occupational performance problems (p <0.01). ABC scores improved (p = 0.0435), while FES changes did not reach significance (p = 0.1106).

CONCLUSION: Yoga delivered through telehealth is feasible and may offer a means to improve balance confidence and occupational performance in rural older adults.


Law, M., Baptiste, S., McColl, M., Opzoomer, A., Polatajko, H., & Pollock, N. (1990). The Canadian occupational performance measure: an outcome measure for occupational therapy. Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 57(2), 82–87.

Little, L. M., Pickett, K. A., Proffitt, R., & Cason, J. (2021). Keeping PACE with 21st Century healthcare: A framework for telehealth research, practice, and program evaluation in occupational therapy. International Journal of Telerehabilitation, 13(1).