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NEW RESEARCH: When Joints Hurt, Try Yoga
By Dr. Jen Morganti, NEEDS Education Director

If you practice yoga regularly, you have already experienced its zenful benefits. Not only can it improve your focus and increase relaxation, but it can also be an excellent low-impact workout as we age—to help you stay fit, maintain flexibility, and improve balance. Yoga is truly designed for people of all ages; the practice can be modified for any age, physical condition, and ability level—so that almost anyone can participate!

Yoga is also effective in helping to improve certain medical conditions and has been the focus of various research studies. NEEDS recently wrote about a study that showed daily yoga practice helps lower total cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Combined with a healthy, whole foods diet and proper supplementation, it could potentially lessen the need for medications and lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Another study has shown that yoga can help reduce pain caused by rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. Published in the Journal of Rheumatology, this study involved 75 people who suffered from one of the two types of arthritis mentioned. The folks in this study were previously sedentary, possibly because of the pain and were likely considered beginners in yoga.

Half the group began a hatha yoga class twice a week and committed to practicing at home at least once per week, while the other half of the group was waitlisted for the yoga classes. The group that practiced yoga experienced significant improvements in walking capacity, pain, depression, and general health. Overall, they experienced a 20% improvement in their health in just 2 months! The benefits were also found to continue 6 months later. Most importantly, yoga was shown to be a safe form of exercise for people who experienced joint pain regularly.

If you're new to the art of yoga, be sure to start slow and utilize a qualified practitioner at a yoga studio. Let them know your physical limitations, so they can modify the poses to match your ability. You can also add supplements that are known to improve symptoms associated with joint pain. Fish oil is an important anti-inflammatory and can help alleviate joint pain. Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), collagen, and magnesium are also beneficial supplements that can reduce inflammation and improve joint function.

The Journal of Rheumatology. Vol. 42 No. 7, 1194-1202.

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