Without management, arthritis can affect not only mobility, but also overall health and well-being, participation in valued activities, and quality of life.

In the trial, people with arthritis who practiced yoga for eight weeks had about a 20 percent improvement in physical health with similar improvements in pain, energy, mood and carrying out day-to-day activities and tasks.

"Yoga may be especially well suited to people with arthritis because it combines physical activity with potent stress management and relaxation techniques, and focuses on respecting limitations that can change from day to day," said one of the researchers Susan Bartlett, adjunct associate professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, US.

The study recruited 75 people with either knee osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. Participants were randomly assigned to either a wait list or eight weeks of twice-weekly yoga classes, plus a weekly practice session at home.

Participants' physical and mental well-being was assessed before and after the yoga session by researchers who did not know which group the participants had been assigned to. Compared with the control group, those doing yoga reported a 20 percent improvement in pain, energy levels, mood and physical function, including their ability to complete physical tasks at work and home.

Improvements in those who completed yoga was still apparent nine months later. The findings were published in the Journal of Rheumatology.

 

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