Yoga has long been touted for its physical and mental benefits, from increased flexibility to better circulatory health and reduced stress. Popular as a full-body exercise that builds strength and aids in weight loss, its advantages may seem limited to people who don’t suffer from joint pain or any physical limitations. However, a recent study found that chair yoga can be a powerful option for those with osteoarthritis who can’t participate in traditional yoga or exercise programs.
Researchers from the Florida Atlantic University sought to see how chair yoga — where participants perform poses on a chair or using a chair as support — could reduce pain and improve quality of life for those suffering from osteoarthritis. They tested 131 older adults with the disease, having them either participate in a chair yoga program or a general health education program. Twice a week for eight weeks, volunteers participated in 45-minute sessions and tracked their pain, how their pain impacted their life, balance, fatigue, functional ability and walking speed before, during and after each session.
The research team studied these measurements at the beginning of the study, four weeks into it, eight weeks into it, and one month and three months after the study concluded. They found that at all stages, those who participated in chair yoga experienced less pain and better pain management. During the eight weeks, participants in chair yoga also had increased walking speed and lowered fatigue, although these benefits didn’t persist when they stopped practicing yoga.
Impacting over 27 million Americans, there is currently no cure for osteoarthritis other than pharmacologic treatment or lifestyle adjustments. Exercise can often be an effective method of reducing pain and helping stimulate cartilage growth, although the ability to be active can decrease with age or the condition’s severity. Chair yoga may be the solution for those lacking muscle strength or balance, and may help abet osteoarthritis-related pain and lead to gradual increases in physical function and quality of life. However, it’s important to consult with an orthopedic surgeon or one of our Eastside physical therapy specialists before beginning a new workout regime.
Check out Fitness Magazine’s guide to chair yoga poses for an introduction to what you can do at home or in the office.
Struggling with joint pain? Our orthopedic surgeons in Seattle and surrounding areas can help determine what surgical or non-surgical options are best for you. Contact one of our Eastside orthopedic clinics today to return to an active, healthy life.