Yoga has been shown in research to be an effective tool for relieving lower back pain. But the cost of those classes can add up fast.
Fortunately, a new study in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine suggests only doing one yoga class a week seems to have the same beneficial effect on lower back pain as two classes a week.
"Given the similar improvement seen in once weekly yoga classes, and that once a week is more convenient and less expensive, we recommend patients suffering from lower back pain who want to pursue yoga attend a weekly therapeutic yoga class," study researcher Dr. Robert Saper, M.D., M.P.H., who is an associate professor of family medicine at the Boston University School of Medicine, said in a statement.
Saper, who is also the director of integrative medicine at Boston Medical Center, and colleagues studied 95 adults, who mostly came from low-income backgrounds and who all experienced moderate to severe pain in their lower backs. They were followed through 12 weeks of yoga. Some of the participants attended a yoga class once a week, while others were assigned to go twice a week. Both groups were also prompted to do yoga at home.
Researchers found at the end of the 12-week period that all the participants had lower reported pain levels, as well as less need to take pain medications. And surprisingly, they did not find differences in both measures between those who took the yoga class once a week and those who took it twice a week.
However, researchers did note some possible reasons for why the once-weekly group seemed to do just as well as the twice-weekly group: "Participants in the twice-weekly group were less likely than once-weekly participants to be adherent. Secondly, home practice in both groups was similar," they wrote. Plus, researchers found that both of the groups seemed to reach their max benefit after six weeks.
"Our study suggests that low income minority populations will accept and be satisfied with a yoga program, at least in the context of a clinical trial that offers financial compensation and free yoga classes," the researchers wrote in the study. "The cost of individual community yoga classes, typically ranging $15–$20, may be prohibitive for these populations. Structured yoga programs for chronic low back pain need to be implemented in community and healthcare settings and evaluated to ascertain their feasibility and acceptance."
Mindfulness meditation could help doctors provide better care to their patients, University of Rochester Medical Center researchers found. When doctors underwent mindfulness meditation training, they listened better and were less judgmental at home and at work, according to the Academic Medicine study.
Practicing mindfulness meditation exercises could help people with the painful condition to decrease their stress and fatigue levels, according to a study from Oslo's Diakonhjemmet Hospital. In that study, published in the journal Annals of Rheumatic Diseases, the goal of the mindfulness meditation exercises was to help people concentrate on their own thoughts, experiences and pain in the moment, without actively trying to avoid them or judge them. The researchers found that people who did the exercises had lower stress and fatigue measurements than people who didn't partake in the meditation.
Practicing mindfulness meditation could help decrease feelings of loneliness in the elderly. The small study, published in the journal Brain, Behavior & Immunity, showed that undergoing an eight-week mindfulness meditation training program, as well as doing meditation exercises at home, was linked with lower feelings of loneliness and a reduction in the expression of genes known to be linked with inflammation. This finding is important because, among the elderly, loneliness is known to increase the risk for a number of other health problems -- including heart risks and even a premature death.
Practicing yoga for eight weeks helped stroke survivors to improve their balance in a study published in the journal Stroke. Improving balance among stroke patients is important for reducing the risk of falls. People who had balance problems, or feelings of dizziness and/or spinning, were five times more likely to fall than those without balance issues, according to an earlier 2003 study in Stroke. And in other research, presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine this year and conducted by the same researchers as the balance study, they found that yoga helped stroke survivors to be more flexible, be stronger, and have more endurance and strength.
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The Washoe County Sheriff's Office in Reno, Nevada, is offering yoga to female prisoners to help them with anger and stress issues, Fox Reno reported. The twice-a-month classes are taught by volunteers, and are part of the Alternatives to Incarceration Unit's Women's Empowerment Program, according to Fox Reno.
Meditation could be the key to minimizing stress for busy teachers, according to a study from researchers at the University of California, San Francisco. The findings, published in the journal Emotion, showed that undergoing eight weeks of meditation helped to lower anxiety and depression, also, in the teachers, Everyday Health reported.