April 14, 2015
1 min read

Study: Yoga may improve health, fitness in sedentary patients with RA, OA

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Sedentary patients with rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis may benefit from yoga, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins and McGill universities.

The researchers enrolled 40 patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and 35 patients with osteoarthritis (OA). Patients were mostly women (96%), 55% were white, 39% were black and about 51% had a college education. Disease duration averaged 8.5 years for patients with RA and 10.1 years in patients with OA.

Patients were evaluated using the SF-36 physical component summary (PCS) and mental component summary (MCS), an 11-item Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D), the Perceived Stress Scale, the Positive and Negative Affect Scale (PANAS) to assess mood and a battery of tests such as the 6-minute walk and sit-and-reach tests.

The Arthritis Self-Efficacy Scale was used to assess arthritis management and the Patients Global Assessment was completed. Patients with RA were evaluated by assessing 28 tender and swollen joint counts.

Participants were randomly assigned to 8 weeks of 1-hour hatha yoga sessions twice weekly or were waitlisted for yoga. Each yoga class began with questions and comments, 5 minutes of breathing exercises and chanting, a warm-up and moving sequence for 15 minutes, and 20 minutes of isometric poses to increase strength and flexibility. Ten minutes of deep relation followed, and a 5-minute chant and meditation closed the classes.

After 8 weeks, 80% of participants completed yoga classes twice a week. Scores in waitlist participants remained unchanged, whereas yoga participants had improved scores in most domains of the SF-36 and less impairment, fewer depressive symptoms on the CES-D and higher positive affect on the PANAS, according to the researchers. Additionally, in patients with RA, swollen and tender joints decreased in both groups.

After 9 months, available data for 37 participants showed improvements persisted with participants in PCS, sit-and-reach, 6-minute walk, CES-D, positive and negative affects, perceived stress and SF-36 scores. No adverse events were reported. - by Shirley Pulawski

Disclosure s : Moonaz reports having received the Arthritis Foundation doctoral dissertation award, which helped support this research. Please see the full study for a list of all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.