Introduction Since falls may lead to fractures and have serious, potentially fatal outcomes, prevention of falls is an urgent public health issue. We examined the effects of chair yoga therapy on physical fitness among psychiatric patients in order to reduce the risk of falls, which has not been previously reported in the literature. Methods In this 12-week single-blind randomized controlled trial with a 6-week follow-up, inpatients with mixed psychiatric diagnoses were randomly assigned to either chair yoga therapy in addition to ongoing treatment, or treatment-as-usual. Chair yoga therapy was conducted as twice-weekly 20-min sessions over 12 weeks. Assessments included anteflexion in sitting, degree of muscle strength, and Modified Falls Efficacy Scale (MFES) as well as QOL, psychopathology and functioning. Results Fifty-six inpatients participated in this study (36 men; mean ± SD age, 55.3 ± 13.7 years; schizophrenia 87.5%). In the chair yoga group, significant improvements were observed in flexibility, hand-grip, lower limb muscle endurance, and MFES at week 12 (mean ± SD: 55.1 ± 16.6 to 67.2 ± 14.0 cm, 23.6 ± 10.6 to 26.8 ± 9.7 kg, 4.9 ± 4.0 to 7.0 ± 3.9 kg, and 114.9 ± 29.2 to 134.1 ± 11.6, respectively). Additionally, these improvements were observable six weeks after the intervention was over. The QOL-VAS improved in the intervention group while no differences were noted in psychopathology and functioning between the groups. The intervention appeared to be highly tolerable without any notable adverse effects. Conclusions The results indicated sustainable effects of 20-min, 12-week, 24-session chair yoga therapy on physical fitness. Chair yoga therapy may contribute to reduce the risk of falls and their unwanted consequences in psychiatric patients.
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