Posts tagged joint health

Yoga for arthritis

Related imageYoga, t’ai chi, qi gong, and walking, are joining the treadmill and exercise bike as ways to safely and effectively increase physical activity. Keep in mind that yoga is not just represented by pretzel-like poses requiring considerable strength and balance. Beginner yoga classes may provide simple, gentle movements that gradually build strength, balance, and flexibility – all elements that may be especially beneficial for people with arthritis. In an article on Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center, Steffany Haaz Moonaz, PhD and registered yoga teacher (RYT-500) will demystify yoga for arthritis patients and their providers. For her doctoral project, she worked with Dr. Susan Bartlett and Dr. Clifton Bingham in the Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center to develop and test a modified yoga program for people living with arthritis. Click here to read the results of the study. We picked out some key questions that people living with arthritis may have before they start a yoga program.

What are the benefits of yoga?

Yoga is a safe and effective way to increase physical activity. Yoga can increase muscle strength, improve flexibility, enhance respiratory endurance, and promote balance. A recent study shows that yoga is associated with increased energy and fewer bodily aches and pains. Due to its meditative nature, yoga also benefits mental health by lessening feelings of anxiety, depression, and psychological stress.

Have scientific studies of yoga been done in arthritis patients?

Johns Hopkins has recently published an article with the results of a clinical trial of yoga that they have conducted in the Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center. The study provided “critical evidence showing that in people with arthritis who are sedentary, yoga appears to be safe, feasible, and enjoyable for people with both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis and that it results in important physical and mental health benefits for people who practice it regularly.” Yoga programs developed as a follow up also found improvements in balance, functional reach, upper body function, and pain.

What is the best way to try yoga? 

Let your doctor know you are interested in doing yoga. Ask if there are any limitations or restrictions you should be aware of. Have your doctor write these recommendations so you can speak to a qualified yoga therapist or teacher and develop a yoga routine best suited to you. For the first few lessons, keep a mental note of how you feel during your yoga class. Are there positions that hurt? Are there modified methods for such positions?

What can I expect to do in a beginning yoga class?

There are three main components to most western yoga classes: poses (asanas), breathing techniques (pranayama), and relaxation. Some classes will include meditation or chanting. Remember, do not do anything that is uncomfortable. All yoga poses can be modified for your safety and comfort.

Yoga Poses for Arthritis Patients from Johns Hopkins 

Below is an excerpt from Johns Hopkins:

These are a few yoga poses that you may want to try at home.  Before beginning any new activity, be sure to consult your doctor.  It is important to listen to your body.  If you feel any sharp pain, instability or lightheadedness, stop and rest or adjust to a more comfortable position.  A well-trained and experienced yoga instructor will be able to offer more individual guidance to adapt the poses for your needs and limitations.

Researcher-consumer-patient group collaboration facilitates knowledge translation

The Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute published a news article about the Walk10Blocks app, commenting how researcher-consumer-patient group collaboration can facilitate knowledge translation. The Walk10Blocks team thanks the Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute and other groups for sharing the Walk10Blocks app with their network.

Below is an excerpt of the article:

Researcher-consumer-patient Group Collaboration Facilitates Knowledge Translation

A man and a woman on their phone for Walk10Blocks app
Walk10Blocks helps get sedentary people moving.

The development process behind a new app to help sedentary people get moving shows how unique partnerships between researchers, consumers, and patient groups can lead to innovative health research. Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute (VCHRI) scientists Dr. Linda Li and Dr. Teresa Liu-Ambrose credit the collaboration between themselves and consumer and patient groups, including Arthritis Consumer Experts, the Alzheimer Society of B.C., and CARP (the Canadian Association of Retired Persons), for the development of the Walk10Blocks app.

Dr. Linda Li, professor in the Department of Physical Therapy at the University of British Columbia and Canada Research Chair in Patient-Oriented Knowledge Translation at UBC and Arthritis Research Canada. 

“We’re very proud of this collaboration. It’s a perfect example of how researchers getting together with patient and public groups can come up with innovative ideas and actually make things happen,” says Dr. Li.

“I’ve built apps before for other research projects and it usually takes a very long time. Walk10Blocks only took one year from conception to testing launch in the community. When consumer and patient groups are involved–they know what works and they’re really driven to get things done fast and done right.”

Walk10Blocks is the first app designed specifically to help adults get over the hurdle of starting regular physical activity by encouraging them to walk 10 blocks a day (or about one kilometre per day), which according to research may help delay or minimize risk of dementia and improve cardiovascular and joint health over time. 

Walk10Blocks, which is currently available for free on iTunes, can be installed on an iPhone 5S or above. The app uses the phone’s core motion sensor to collect data about a person’s movement activity. The app converts this activity into a walking log, which tracks the distance travelled throughout the day and how many theoretical city blocks have been covered. The goal is to encourage sedentary people to walk at least 10 blocks per day. The app offers motivating, friendly alerts, has easy-to-read measurements, helps set reasonable walking goals, and awards badges for meeting goals.

By downloading the app, Walk10Blocks participants have also agreed to take part in an innovative research study that uses the app to collect data through surveys. Information gathered for the study includes patients’ fatigue, pain, mood, stress, and walk ratings to give researchers a better understanding of what individuals’ walking opportunities look like. The study also aims to help users recognize and understand their own physical activity levels and sedentary behaviour, create awareness about neighbourhood resources, and determine the overall feasibility of the app.

Development of the app started with one of Drs. Li and Liu-Ambrose’s research groups consulting with patient groups and receiving a grant from the Improving Cognitive and Joint Health Network (ICON), a Canadian Institutes of Health Research knowledge translation catalyst network.

“What we heard loud and clear through our consultations was a desire for more efficient, effective use of what we know about physical activity and its health benefits in terms of managing diseases, especially for people whose health may worsen without it.”

Early on, the groups met with Dr. Liu-Ambrose, researcher at the Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health and the Centre for Hip Health and Mobility, who shared with them current evidence with relation to exercise and cognitive function. According to Dr. Li, the group was most interested in findings from a nine-year observational study in the U.S. that showed that walking approximately 10 city-sized blocks results in better cognition and better brains.

“That specific information had our consumer groups almost jumping for joy because to them it was finally something concrete that could be used and brought back to stakeholder groups as the minimum amount of physical activity you needed to do for positive effect,” according to Dr. Li.

Dr. Liu-Ambrose, who is also Canada Research Chair in Physical Activity, Mobility, and Cognitive Neuroscience, says the group got quite motivated by the idea that you don’t necessarily need to run a marathon to have a positive impact on brain health. “This led to the concept of the app and Cheryl Koehn, president of Arthritis Consumer Experts and head of our arthritis patient group, really has been the driving force behind it.”

“The evidence is accumulating to suggest that exercise is beneficial–but where there is a void is how to put it into action. The app is a bit of that component,” she adds. “When everyone has a common goal and shared interests, I think that’s when we make good progress.”

“And so in many ways, recommending regular activities, such as moderately paced walking, seems to be a pretty reasonable approach for promoting physical and cognitive health over the lifespan.”