Chair yoga can help you stay active

Not everyone has the ability to pop down to the gym or go for a jog around the town. If you’re suffering with a debilitating condition like osteoarthritis, you may think you’re not physically able to get your exercise fix or that it may make your symptoms worse.

If that’s the case, a new study could possibly change your mind…

This latest study, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, offers a new approach to tackling the pain of osteoarthritis – and something you can implement without even leaving your chair.

A group of 131 community-dwelling older adults were split into a health education programme or a regimen of Sit N Fit chair yoga, both twice weekly for 45 minutes at a time.

At the end of the 8-week programme, the chair yoga group demonstrated a greater reduction in overall pain, pain interference, gait speed and fatigue, compared to the other group.

Chair yoga offers a fantastic alternative for those who can’t take part in regular yoga (or other physical activities) due to low muscle strength or balance.

Try some of these example positions out for yourself:

• Raised hands – on inhaling, raise your arms above your head, pointing to the ceiling. Let your shoulder blades slide down your back as you reach up.

• Forward bend – on exhalation, bend flat over your legs, letting your hands rest on the floor or just as low as you can bend, allowing your head to hang heavy. On inhalation, resume back into the raised hands position. Repeat several times, moving with each breath.

• Extended side angle – After the final bend of your forward bend exercise, stay folded over. With your left finger tips on the outside of your left foot, open your chest as you twist to the right, reaching your right arm to the ceiling (keeping your left fingers on the ground). Hold for several breaths then bring your right arm down to the floor to the side of your right foot and raise your left arm to the ceiling.

Co-author of the study, Ruth McCaffrey, said: “With osteoarthritis-associated pain, there is interference in everyday living, limiting functional and social activities, as well as diminishing life enjoyment. The effect of pain on everyday living is most directly captured by pain interference, and our findings demonstrate that chair yoga reduced pain interference in everyday activities.”

So no more excuses for getting out of your exercises – jump, or sit, to it!

Wishing you the best of health,

Dominic Rees
Editorial Health Researcher