If you’re a fan of yoga, you know the benefits that this type of exercise has to offer. Yoga helps to reduce stress, lower blood pressure, improve heart function, and alleviate a multitude of chronic conditions. Not to mention the benefits of improved flexibility and fitness. If you have lower back pain, yoga can also help to alleviate it. However, attending multiple yoga classes can sometimes be expensive and difficult to fit into your busy weekly schedule. A recent study in the journal Evidence-Based Complimentary and Alternative Medicine found that one class a week actually seems to have the same effect on alleviating lower back pain as two weekly classes.
Study researcher Dr. Robert Saper, M.D., M.P.H., associate professor of family medicine at the Boston University School of Medicine, said, “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.”
In this study, 95 adults were followed over a course of 12 weeks. During this time, the participants were split into groups: One group did yoga once a week, while the other group did a class twice a week. Both groups were instructed to do yoga at home as well, if possible. All of the study participants came from a low-income background and had a range of different types of back pain.
At the end of the 12 weeks, all of the participants had less back pain. To the surprise of the researchers, there seemed to be no difference between those who went twice a week and those who stuck with a once a week yoga class. According to researchers, all of the participants found their maximum benefit around the six-week mark. “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 in the study.
They went on to say that this study suggests that low-income minority populations will be satisfied with yoga as a treatment plan, especially in a clinical trial with free yoga classes. “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,” they wrote.
Yoga can help to improve your balance, range of motion, strength, and flexibility. These are all important ways to help the body overcome a multitude of chronic problems and muscle imbalances. This study shows that these mind-body powerhouse exercises are beneficial even in small doses. Sometimes it’s just nice to know that your morning sun salutations and weekly yoga class will pay off in the end.
Always consult your chiropractor or primary care physician for all your health related advice.
Image Credit: Yoga, used under a creative commons license.
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