Chair Yoga an Effective Treatment for Osteoarthritis
For the millions of older adults who suffer from osteoarthritis in their lower extremities (hip, knee, ankle or foot), chair yoga is proving to be an effective way to reduce pain and improve quality of life while avoiding pharmacologic treatment or adverse events. That’s the finding of research conducted at Florida Atlantic University and published in the January 2017 issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. The study is the first randomized controlled trial to examine the effects of chair yoga on pain and physical function in older adults with osteoarthritis.
A release from the university notes that the team randomly assigned 131 older adults with osteoarthritis to either the “Sit ‘N’ Fit Chair Yoga©” program developed by Kristine Lee or a health education program. Participants attended 45-minute sessions twice a week for eight weeks. Researchers measured pain, pain interference (how it affects one’s life), balance, gait speed, fatigue and functional ability, before, during and after the sessions.
Results from the study found that participants in the chair yoga group, compared to those in the health education program, 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 8-week chair yoga program was completed. The 8-week chair yoga program also was associated with reductions in fatigue and improvement in gait speed during the study session, but not post session.
The release quotes Juyoung Park, Ph.D., co-author and co-principal investigator of the study, as saying. “With osteoarthritis-associated pain, there is interference in everyday living, limiting functional and social activities as well as diminishing life enjoyment. 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.” Dr. Park is Hartford Geriatric Social Work Faculty Scholar and an associate professor in FAU’s College for Design and Social Inquiry.
Regular exercise has proven to help relieve osteoarthritis pain, however, the ability to participate in exercise declines with age, and many dropout before they can even receive benefits. Although the Arthritis Foundation recommends yoga to reduce joint pain, improve flexibility and balance, and reduce stress and tension, many older adults cannot participate in standing exercises because of lack of muscle strength, pain and balance as well as the fear of falling due to impaired balance. Chair yoga is practiced sitting in a chair or standing while holding the chair for support, and is well suited to older adults who cannot participate in standing yoga or exercise.