Could an hour of yoga a day bring the life back to limbs ailed by osteoarthritis? This seems to be the general consensus, as more and more patients are finding new ways to stay limber and pain-free. No cure for arthritis currently exists, but studies have shown the more active an individual is, the less severe his or her symptoms will be.
Why Movement Matters for Arthritis Patients
A study conducted by Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine found that individuals with sedentary lifestyles are the ones who are affected most severely by osteoarthritis. Exercising your joints and their attached ligaments daily can prevent them from becoming stiff. Not performing some form of physical activity on a routine basis can eventually cause the joint pain to render you immobile. Surgery is typically required in these cases to help patients perform the simplest of tasks (e.g. walking, clasping, etc.).
For years, physical therapists, instructors and participants have touted the marked health benefits of yoga, including mental and emotional ones. This form of exercise is particularly beneficial for people with arthritis, in that it concentrates primarily on slow, controlled movements that lighten the load on aching muscles and joints.
The Arthritis Foundation champions the benefits of yoga as a terrific form of exercise for older adults suffering from the disorder. The fluidity of yoga facilitates the joint strengthening process without the intensity and discomfort associated with other types of physical activity like running and resistance training. It is akin to swimming (another great exercise), in that the body is kept in a state of buoyancy. The meditative nature of yoga aids in pain reduction by calming the patient; a person’s mental state has significant effects on their body’s physical manifestations.
Why Yoga Works so Well
The combination of breathing exercises with steady muscle movements and poses puts arthritis patients at a unique advantage, one that gives them all the benefits of cardio without any of the negative side effects. Yoga actually encompasses a wide array of movement patterns, and shares many similarities to other meditative activities.
Another gentle form of exercise that arthritis patients can benefit from is Tai Chi. The Arthritis Foundation also recommends this form of exercise for those with the condition. Even if those with arthritis cannot make it to a Tai Chi class (which is a great social activity), there are a number of DVDs on the market that allow them to do this form of exercise at home to help manage arthritis.
Find Ways to Move
Regardless of which route arthritis patients take to alleviate joint pain and strengthen their muscles, the benefits of doing so are worth emphasizing. The main reason for the pain is due to the erosion of cartilage between the joints. Regular activity and movement can lessen this and other negative effects caused by arthritis.
The physical benefits of exercises such as yoga and Tai Chi include but are not limited to: increased muscle flexibility and strength, healthy weight maintenance, cartilage strengthening, enhanced joint range of movement. Yoga can help you achieve all of this and peace of mind!
How often do you do Yoga? Share with us in the comments below.