Yoga Strengthens Physical And Mental Health For People With Arthritis 

June 23, 2023; Unhurry Expert Research Team

June 21 was International Yoga Day. All of this week, we are celebrating the positive impact of yoga on mental health. All our research articles and features will bring you these scientific insights.

Yoga can be safe and effective for people with arthritis. A randomized trial of individuals with two prevalent kinds of arthritis indicated that yoga can be both safe and helpful for those with the condition. According to the research, eight weeks of yoga courses helped persons with rheumatoid arthritis and knee osteoarthritis feel better physically and mentally.

The largest randomized trial to date to investigate yoga’s impact on arthritis patients’ physical, mental, and quality of life was conducted by Johns Hopkins Medicine. The Journal of Rheumatology reported the results.

Yoga best suited for arthritis

“There’s a real surge of interest in yoga as a complementary therapy, with 1 in 10 people in the U.S. now practicing yoga to improve their health and fitness,” says Susan J. Bartlett, Ph.D., an adjunct associate professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins and associate professor at McGill University “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.”

Arthritis impacts the quality of life

One in five persons, most of whom are under 65 years old, suffer from arthritis, the main cause of disability. Without correct treatment, arthritis impairs mobility as well as general health and well-being, ability to engage in worthwhile activities, and quality of life. Although there is no known treatment for arthritis, staying active is a key component of managing the condition. However, up to 90% of persons with arthritis are less active than public health recommendations advise. This may be because they are unclear on how to stay active or because they are experiencing arthritic symptoms like pain and stiffness.

75 participants with rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis of the knee were included in the study. The waitlist or eight weeks of twice-weekly yoga courses plus a weekly practice session at home were offered to participants at random. Before and after the yoga session, researchers who were unaware of the participant’s group assignment evaluated the participants’ physical and emotional health.

Yoga practitioners with arthritis report a 20% improvement in pain

Yoga practitioners reported a 20% increase in pain, energy, mood, and physical function, including their capacity to carry out physical duties at home and at work, when compared to the control group. There was minimal difference between the groups in measures of balance and upper body strength, but walking speed did improve to a lesser level. Nine months later, those who finished yoga were still showing improvements.

Clifton O. Bingham III, M.D., associate professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and director of the Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center, says the idea for the study grew out of his experiences treating patients with arthritis. “It was watching what happened with my patients and the changes in their lives as a result of practicing yoga that got me interested in the first place.”

Yoga safe for people with arthritis

Safety was a priority in the study, the authors say. “For people with other conditions, yoga has been shown to improve pain, pain-related disability, and mood,” says Bingham. “But there were no well-controlled trials 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. Our first step was to ensure that yoga was a reasonable and safe option for people with arthritis. Our instructors have experienced yoga therapists with additional training to modify poses to accommodate individual abilities.” Participants were screened by their doctors prior to joining the study and continued to take their regular arthritis medication during the study.

The researchers have developed a checklist to make it easier for doctors to safely recommend yoga to their patients, Bingham says. People with arthritis who are considering yoga should “talk with their doctors about which specific joints are of concern, and about modifications to poses,” suggests Bingham. “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.”

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June 23, 2023; Unhurry Expert Research Team June 21 was International Yoga Day. All of this week, we are celebrating the positive impact of yoga


Story Source:

Materials provided by Johns Hopkins Medicine. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

S. H. Moonaz, C. O. Bingham, L. Wissow, S. J. Bartlett. Yoga in Sedentary Adults with Arthritis: Effects of a Randomized Controlled Pragmatic Trial. The Journal of Rheumatology, 2015; 42 (7): 1194 DOI: 10.3899/jrheum.141129

Page citation:

Johns Hopkins Medicine. “Yoga improves arthritis symptoms, mood, study finds.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 September 2015. <>.

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