Posts tagged physical activity

Yoga and Arthritis

Person doing a yoga poseThe most recent EULAR recommendations for pain management in inflammatory arthritis and osteoarthritis (OA) include physical activity and exercise as a part of a patient’s treatment plan. Physical activity has been shown to significantly ease joint pain and increase mobility, for this reason, exercise is increasingly being prescribed by physicians and other healthcare providers.

Some examples of well-known and effective exercises for people with arthritis include walking, biking and swimming. These are low-impact aerobic exercises, meaning they will generally be easier on the joints and cause your heart rate to increase. Are there other activities that could also benefit people living with arthritis, such as yoga?

Yoga is a group of physical, mental, and spiritual practices which originated in ancient India. Yoga increases flexibility, balance and muscle strength, improves fitness, and relieves pain. A recent study conducted by a team of researchers in China found that if practiced regularly, yoga can effectively alleviate pain and improve joint function for people with knee arthritis. According to the researchers, whole body benefits involve “reducing stress, lowering blood pressure, and metabolic regulation.” A healthy metabolic regulation affects how your body absorbs the nutrients it is getting.

The specific research method used in this study was a meta-analysis. Researchers looked at previous studies where yoga was used as an intervention to treat knee arthritis, and then analyzed the results of all of these studies to determine the efficacy of the activity. In total, 13 clinical trials with 1,557 patients with either knee osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis were analyzed, with a specific focus on how yoga impacts pain reduction, joint function, and general wellbeing. This research method provides a more wholistic picture on the impacts of yoga on arthritis outcomes than a single study would.

Researchers concluded that if yoga is practised regularly, it is helpful in reducing symptoms, promoting physical function, and general wellbeing for patients with knee arthritisThey added: “This review indicates that yoga intervention could be used for relieving OA pain; however, in the absence of high-quality studies with low risk of bias, the true benefits of yoga, although promising, are still undetermined.”

Researchers believe that there are two reasons why yoga can help reduce pain in patients with knee arthritis:

  • Yoga increases joint stability by strengthening muscles and therefore, reduces physical pain. Strengthening the knee muscles to support your body weight is a primary goal in an arthritis treatment plan.
  • Yoga promotes proper body positioning and helps reduce stress. The stress reducing component is effective in pain management for patients with knee arthritis.

In addition, people who practiced yoga also experienced an increased awareness of their mental health. They were found to be more accepting of their condition and more detached from the psychological experience of pain.

While more research is still needed, yoga is a fun form of physical activity that can be practiced anywhere, either alone or with others, making improving arthritis outcomes even more convenient. To learn more about exercise and arthritis, listen to this JointHealth™podcast featuring physiotherapist and researcher Linda Li, from Arthritis Research Canada.

The power of working out together

Workout groups portraying older adults

A recent study at the University of British Columbia’s School of Kinesiology shows the importance of age-targeting fitness programs and working out together. The research found that older adults are more likely to stick with a group exercise program if they can work out with people their own age; whereas, working out with people of the same gender made no difference to following an exercise program.

According to Impact Magazine, “In Canada, fewer than 15 per cent of people past age 59 meet international physical activity guidelines. We have been looking for ways to keep people active into old age, because inactivity has been shown to increase risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity and arthritis. It can also affect overall quality of life.”

For the study, 627 adults between the ages of 65 and 91 (average was 72) were recruited for exercise classes at YMCA locations in Metro Vancouver. The participants were divided into three workout groups:

1) Participants were of the same age and gender, led by older adult instructors trained for the study.

2) Participants were of the same age, but different gender, led by older adult instructors trained for the study.

3) Participants worked out in a typical YMCA class that was open to all ages and genders, led by a YMCA instructor.

Over the 24-week period of the study, researchers found that:

-participants in the same-age, mixed-gender group averaged 33.8 classes

-participants in the same-age, same-gender group averaged 30.7 classes

-participants in the mixed-age group averaged 24.3 classes

Participants were given T-shirts that identified them as members of a group and were given opportunities to socialize over coffee following class. This social connection – the sense of belonging – helped participants stick with their exercise program.

This age-targeting strategy should be adapted to a variety of physical activity settings such as community centres, fitness clubs and retirement communities to help older adults meet their daily physical activity requirements.

Exercise is Medicine® Canada – A global health initiative

Arthritis Broadcast Network, powered by Arthritis Consumer Experts, had the pleasure of interviewing Jonathon Fowles, Chair of the National Advisory Council: Exercise is Medicine® Canada, at the 2017 CRA Annual Scientific Meeting & AHPA Annual Meeting. Watch the interview to learn more about how exercise is medicine for people living with chronic diseases. Fowles is also a Professor at the School of Kinesiology at Acadia University.

If you have any questions for Fowles, please email the production team at:

feedback@jointhealth.org.

About Exercise is Medicine® Canada

Exercise is Medicine® Canada (EIMC) is a movement to encourage a healthy lifestyle among Canadians. EIMC programs are based on abundant evidence that physical activity and exercise reduce the risk of chronic disease and the belief that:

  • Most Canadians can find simple ways to incorporate physical activity and exercise into their daily routines;
  • More should be done to address physical activity and exercise in the healthcare setting; physical activity and exercise should be incorporated as a key health indicator and standard of medical care as a ‘vital sign’; and
  • Certified exercise professionals serve as important resources for Canadians and their healthcare providers

Exercise is Medicine® (EIM) is a global health initiative managed by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) that is focused on encouraging primary care physicians and other health care providers to include physical activity when designing treatment plans for patients and referring their patients to EIM Credentialied Exercise and Health Fitness Professionals. EIM is committed to the belief that physical activity is integral in the prevention and treatments of diseases and should be regularly assessed and “treated” as part of all healthcare. The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP) is the proud host organization for EIM in Canada.