A new study suggests that yoga is not only safe but also beneficial for patients with arthritis, a medical condition characterized by stiffness and inflammation of the joints.
A randomized trial conducted by the researchers of Johns Hopkins University led by the university's medicine associate professor and head of Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center Dr. Clifton Bingham III showed that yoga can improve not only the mood but also the physical health of people with arthritis, especially those with rheumatoid arthritis and knee osteoarthritis. These two are some of the most common types of arthritis.
The study had 75 participants, all of which were diagnosed with either of the two kinds of arthritis. They were then divided randomly into two groups. One of them had to attend yoga classes twice a week and practice yoga at home once a week. The others were placed on the wait list. For comparison, the researchers also assessed the participants' mental and physical health before and after the sessions. However, those who performed the assessment didn't know which group the participants belonged to.
After eight weeks, the team analyzed the results and learned that those who performed yoga experienced at least 20% improvement in their physical and mental well-being. Not only were they in less pain, but they also had a happier mood. They were also able to function more properly whether at home or at work. These positive changes lasted nine months.
However, there's not much difference between the two groups when it comes to walking speed, upper body strength, and balance.
According to Arthritis Foundation, around 50 million people are diagnosed with arthritis, and the condition is one of the leading causes of disability as it can significantly limit their physical activities and movements such as walking and bending.
Yoga, on the other hand, has become a growing complementary therapy especially for people in physical pain.
However, the researchers stress the importance of safety especially since the disease can make some joints vulnerable. Patients who are interested to do yoga should discuss possible pose modifications.
The entire study is available in Journal of Rheumatology since April.