Chair yoga can be an alternative treatment for osteoarthritis

By Rebecca Burton • Published: April 7th, 2017
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease, affects more than a third of adults above the age of 65, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The disease often causes pain in the hips, knees, ankles and feet. Treatment typically includes a combination of physical therapy and pain medications.

But a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that a modified version of yoga using a chair for support, or chair yoga, may be a fun and effective alternative treatment for osteoarthritis.

Researchers at Florida Atlantic University randomly placed 131 older patients into two groups. One group completed the “Sit ‘N’ Fit Chair Yoga” program, while the other group completed a more traditional health education program. The yoga program included two 45-minute sessions a week for eight weeks.

Before and after each session, patients recorded their pain level, balance, walking speed, fatigue and functional ability. Results showed those in the chair yoga program had a greater reduction in pain than those who participated in the health education program.

Exercise provides many benefits to those with osteoarthritis; however, the ability to participate in exercise declines with age. The regular standing exercises of traditional yoga can be too much for older patients and the addition of the chair allows the patients to reap the benefits without getting injured.

The research team hopes these findings will shed light on this new type of exercise and its ability to decrease pain and improve physical and psychological function in older osteoarthritis patients. They also hope people will have some fun in the process.