Chair yoga effective treatment for osteoarthritis – exciting new research

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Chair yoga is proving to be an effective way to reduce pain and improve quality of life for people with osteoarthritis, experts report in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

A total of 131 older adults with osteoarthritis were split into groups. Half took part in the Sit ‘N’ Fit Chair Yoga programme and the others took part in a health education programme. They attended 45-minute sessions twice a week for eight weeks.

Key findings

People in the chair yoga group showed a greater reduction in pain and pain interference during their sessions, and that reduction in pain interference lasted for about three months after the programme was finished.

The chair yoga programme was also associated with reductions in fatigue and improvement in gait speed during the study session, but not after the session.

“With osteoarthritis-associated pain, there is interference in everyday living, limiting functional and social activities as well as diminishing life enjoyment,” explains Dr Juyoung Park, who is involved in the work. “The effect of pain on everyday living is most directly captured by pain interference, and our findings demonstrate that chair yoga reduced pain interference in everyday activities.”

Implications

Although yoga is known to benefit people with osteoarthritis, standing exercises are difficult for those who lack muscle strength and balance, for people in pain and for others who fear falling.

Chair yoga is more accessible as it is practised sitting in a chair or standing while holding the chair for support.

Dr Patricia Liehr, also involved in the work, comments:

“The potential impact of this study on public health is high, as this program provides an approach for keeping community-dwelling elders active even when they cannot participate in traditional exercise that challenges their balance.”

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