Chair Yoga – Benefits Are Many
Researchers at Florida Atlantic University examined the effects of chair yoga on pain and physical function in older adults with osteoarthritis.
For the study, researchers 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 8 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 exercise 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 program was completed. The 8-week program also was associated with reductions in fatigue and improvement in gait speed.
“With osteoarthritis-associated pain, there is interference in everyday living, limiting functional and social activities as well as diminishing life enjoyment,” said Juyoung Park, Ph.D., co-author and co-principal investigator of the study, 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.
“Currently, the only treatment for osteoarthritis, which has no cure, includes lifestyle changes and pharmacologic treatments that are not without adverse events,” said Ruth McCaffrey, D.N.P., A.R.N.P., co-author and emeritus professor in FAU’s College of Nursing. “The long-term goal of this research is to address the non-pharmacologic management of lower extremity osteoarthritis pain and physical function in older adults, and our study provides evidence that chair yoga may be an effective approach for achieving this goal.”
The overall goal of this interdisciplinary program is to decrease pain, and improve physical and psycho-social functions of elderly individuals with osteoarthritis who are unable to participate in other exercise and yoga programs.
“The potential impact of this study on public health is high, as this program provides an approach for keeping community-dwelling elders active even when they cannot participate in traditional exercise that challenges their balance,” said Liehr.