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Study Reveals Yet Another Benefit of Regular Yoga Practice

posted: 09/18/15
by: Discovery.com Staff
Boys at daily yoga session at Gurukul school of Parmarth Niketan in Rishikesh, India.
Brent Stirton

Regular yoga practice significantly improves the mental and physical well-being of arthritis sufferers, according to a new study from Johns Hopkins University.

A randomized clinical trial followed 75 patients diagnosed with either knee osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. For eight weeks, trial subjects attended two yoga classes and participated in one at-home practice each week.

Participants reported a 20% improvement in pain, mood, energy levels and physical function that lasted for up to nine months after the trial. Some respondents also reported that their walking speed increased.

"There were no well-controlled trial of yoga that could tell us if it was safe and effective for people with arthritis, and many health professionals have concerns about how yoga might affect vulnerable joints given the emphasis on changing positions and on being flexible," JHU associate professor Clifton O. Bingham III, M.D. explains in a news release.

The instructors involved in the study were all certified yoga therapists. Study participants were cleared by their doctors before participating, and continued to take arthritis medication throughout the eight-week study.

Although regular physical activity can help manage arthritis symptoms, up to 90% of arthritis patients do not receive the recommended amount of physical activity.

"Find a teacher who asks the right questions about limitations and works closely with you as an individual. Start with gentle yoga classes. Practice acceptance of where you are and what your body can do on any given day," Bingham advises.

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