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In this article, we look at the benefits of moderate exercise and review the latest research studies which have highlighted some interesting conclusions.

Yoga plus conventional treatment with painkillers seems to be more effective for reducing chronic pain than treatment with only painkillers. Chronic pain involves persistent or recurrent pain lasting longer than three months. Medication is often prescribed for people with chronic pain, but has side effects, can be addictive and may not even work, so alternative approaches such as yoga are attractive.

The authors of the Canadian study conclude: “Further exploration of yoga compared with no treatment may provide additional insight into the effectiveness of complementary and alternative medicine therapies for management of chronic non-malignant pain”.

There is also evidence that exercise can reduce risk of falls in older people and is so strong that plans need to be made and implemented, says research in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. Reviewers assessed the effects of exercise interventions for preventing falls in people aged 60 years and older. They found that:

• Exercise reduces the rate of falls by 23%

• The effect was stronger when the interventions are delivered by a health professional

• Balance and functional exercises reduce the rate of falls by 24%

Regular physical activity also lowers risk of fracture. Exercise, including lighter intensity activities such as walking, is associated with reduced risk of fracture in postmenopausal women according to the most comprehensive analysis of the research to date. Women who did the highest amount of physical activity had an 18% lower risk of hip fracture and 6% lower risk of total fracture.

Physical activity also comes up trumps in a new analysis of non-drug and non-surgical interventions for knee arthritis published in an academic journal. A team of experts trawled through the scientific research and concluded that exercise (especially resistance training) had the most positive effects on people with knee osteoarthritis.

Building resistance training into the daily routine of older adults would improve health and longevity according to a statement in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. Resistance training refers to any form of exercise where you lift or pull against resistance e.g. using weights (a full water bottle will do), power bands or a gym machine. The research shows that resistance training is a powerful tool in combating loss of muscle strength and mass in the aging population which makes everyday tasks easier. It also can decrease the risk of heart disease and osteoporosis.

Yoga also appears to be effective in lowering pain and stiffness of osteoarthritis and improving function, says a Current Rheumatology Reports paper. A review of the evidence highlighted trials involving osteoarthritis (aged 50-80 years, 80% women). The authors of the review explain that their findings suggest that “yoga may be effective for improving pain, function, and stiffness in individuals with osteoarthritis compared to exercise and non-exercise control groups.”

Regular exercise also keeps us healthy and alert. It boosts energy and mood thereby relieving stress. Most days do your best to go for a stroll, do some simple stretching at home or your desk and/or go to a class incorporating mindful movement. But, most of all, just move…