A new study suggests that the symptoms of the two most common forms of arthritis, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, may be improved by practising yoga.
Yoga is a practice of the mind and body. It incorporates a combination of controlled breathing, meditation, relaxation and stretching exercises.
Yoga is becoming an increasingly popular complementary therapy, with many people adopting it into their daily exercise regimes. While known for its ability to help reduce anxiety and stress, yoga has been linked with a range of health benefits. But can it ease the symptoms of arthritis?
It has been recommended that people with arthritis engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week. However, research has found that nearly 90 per cent of arthritis sufferers fail to meet the recommended time. This is possibly due to the pain the condition can cause, or because of a lack of knowledge.
It is thought that yoga may be suited to arthritis sufferers due to its combination of physical activity and strength building with stress management and relaxation.
To gain a better understanding of the claim, a team of scientists enrolled 75 volunteers with arthritis. Some of the volunteers were to follow a twice-weekly one-hour session for eight weeks, as well as practising an at-home session once a week. The second group were put on a waitlist.
The results showed that the volunteers who practised regular exercise on a weekly basis for two months, saw a 20 per cent improvement in pain. Compared to the group on the waitlist, they also saw improved energy levels and mood.
As well as this, the yoga group said they experienced up to 20 per cent improved physical function. After the exercise plan, they found their ability to perform daily tasks, both at home and at work, had improved.
What was more interesting, the physical improvements had remained when the volunteers were reassessed nine months later. With these results, the researchers recommend people with arthritis to introduce regular yoga practise to their daily lives in order to manage pain effectively.