Yoga improved symptoms for people with two of the most common forms of arthritis, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, new research has found.
To find out the health benefits of yoga in people with arthritis, the researchers recruited 75 adults aged 18 and older who had either knee osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. Participants were randomly assigned to either a waitlist or eight weeks of twice-weekly yoga classes, plus a weekly practice session at home.
The physical and mental well-being of the study subjects was assessed before and after the yoga session by investigators who did not know which group the participants had been assigned to.
The researchers found that participants who took part in yoga reported a 20 percent improvement in pain, energy levels and mood as compared with participants on a waitlist. They also experienced improvement in physical function such as the ability to perform day-to-day tasks at work and home. These improvements remained evident nine months later.
“Yoga may be well suited to people with arthritis because it combines physical activity with potent stress management and relaxation techniques, and focuses on respecting limitations that can change from day to day,” said one of the researchers Susan Bartlett, professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University.
Yoga is a mind and body practice that incorporates a combination of controlled breathing, stretching exercises and meditation or relaxation. Yoga has been associated with numerous health benefits particularly decreases anxiety and stress.
Arthritis, a painful joint disorder for which there is no cure, is the leading cause of disability. Physical activity is considered as one of the best ways to alleviate symptoms. Medical experts recommend that people living with arthritis engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week. IMAGE/theoptimist.com