Recent research has shown that yoga is actually safe for those suffering from arthritis and can even alleviate joint pain. In addition, yoga has been proven to improve the patients’ morale, by allowing them to release tension and be more physically active.
The study, published in The Journal of Rheumatology, was conducted on 76 participants. Each person had either knee osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, 2 of the most common forms of the disease.
Research was led by Dr. Clifton O. Bingham III, director of the Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center in Baltimore, Maryland. It was actually the largest experiment of its kind directed at analyzing yoga’s effect on people affected by this condition.
Experts divided the subjects into 2 groups, each with a certain function in the trial. One group had to take part in weekly Om practices and in 2 yoga sessions per week, for 8 weeks. The other group was the control group, and wasn’t given any particular routine to follow.
Throughout the experiment, doctors assessed each participant’s physical and mental health, without knowing to what group that person belonged.
Study findings showed that yoga practitioners experienced a 20% overall improvement, which included the following benefits: diminished joint pain, higher energy levels, better mood and superior physical function.
The subjects found it easier to complete physical tasks and were able to walk faster, even though their upper body strength and balance stayed the same.
These beneficial effects persisted even 9 months after the experiment had ended, which suggests that yoga may be particularly efficient for those suffering from arthritis.
“It combines physical activity with potent stress management and relaxation techniques, and focuses on respecting limitations”, declared study co-author Susan J. Bartlett, of Johns Hopkins University.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) , arthritis is currently the nation’s most common cause of disability, affecting 1 in 5 adults. Although the risk of developing this condition increases as the person ages, approximately two-thirds of the patients are younger than 65.
It is believed that in 15 years 67 million Americans will suffer from arthritis, and there is currently no known cure. The disease usually affects the joints, causing aching, stiffness and swelling. However, some types of arthritis such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis result in pain throughout the body.
One essential way of alleviating these symptoms is by staying physically active. CDC recommends at least 75 minutes of vigorous exercise or 150 minutes of moderate exercise every week, but 90% of the patients are too sedentary.
Usually, they are uncertain which type of activity would be suitable for them and prefer not to risk further damage to their articulations.
In the past, doctors have discouraged patients who experience joint pain to engage in yoga, because this practice demands heightened flexibility and contorting the body in unusual postures.
However, it was demonstrated that as long as people don’t over-exert themselves and are closely supervised by a yoga instructor, they can greatly benefit from this type of physical exercise. Patients are still advised to consult with their physician before signing up for yoga classes, to ensure better understanding of their health constraints.
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