Whether it's the more common osteoarthritis or less frequently reported rheumatoid arthritis, there's no denying that the condition plays a significant role in the lives of many seniors. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 28 million Americans have one form of the condition, which often results in significant pain and discomfort. Although there are many potential remedies, a new study from the University of Cincinnati's Health Promotion and Education Program found that practicing yoga may be one of the best ways for seniors to alleviate both the physical and mental effects of arthritis.
Published in the Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, the study relied on the findings of nine previous studies that were all conducted since 2010. After analyzing the results from each trial, researchers determined that yoga, which is often hailed as an effective method of stress relief, can help seniors reduce pain, limit morning stiffness and lower the risk of depression.
"By stretching the muscles, yoga can provide physical relief of symptoms around the affected joints," the authors wrote. "Yoga reduces stress which is known to exacerbate arthritis. Yoga can improve coping and by altering perspective toward life provide spiritual solace."
The results are particularly encouraging given that physical activity is often cited as one of the best ways to treat arthritis, yet many older adults are skeptical due to the pain they're already experiencing. Yoga offers an alternative method that is easy on tender joints and bones.
Of course, yoga is not the only option available to seniors looking to reduce pain from arthritis. According to the Mayo Clinic, alternative treatments such as acupuncture and tai chi have also proven to be an effective path toward healthy aging.