A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial of the Effects of Chair Yoga on Pain and Physical Function Among Community-Dwelling Older Adults With Lower Extremity Osteoarthritis

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2017 Mar;65(3):592-597. doi: 10.1111/jgs.14717. Epub 2016 Dec 23.


Objectives: To determine effects of Sit 'N' Fit Chair Yoga, compared to a Health Education program (HEP), on pain and physical function in older adults with lower extremity osteoarthritis (OA) who could not participate in standing exercise.

Design: Two-arm randomized controlled trial.

Setting: One HUD senior housing facility and one day senior center in south Florida.

Participants: Community-dwelling older adults (N = 131) were randomly assigned to chair yoga (n = 66) or HEP (n = 65). Thirteen dropped after assignment but prior to the intervention; six dropped during the intervention; 106 of 112 completed at least 12 of 16 sessions (95% retention rate).

Interventions: Participants attended either chair yoga or HEP. Both interventions consisted of twice-weekly 45-minute sessions for 8 weeks.

Measurements: Primary: pain, pain interference; secondary: balance, gait speed, fatigue, functional ability measured at baseline, after 4 weeks of intervention, at the end of the 8-week intervention, and post-intervention (1 and 3 months).

Results: The chair yoga group showed greater reduction in pain interference during the intervention (P = .01), sustained through 3 months (P = .022). WOMAC pain (P = .048), gait speed (P = .024), and fatigue (P = .037) were improved in the yoga group during the intervention (P = .048) but improvements were not sustained post intervention. Chair yoga had no effect on balance.

Conclusion: An 8-week chair yoga program was associated with reduction in pain, pain interference, and fatigue, and improvement in gait speed, but only the effects on pain interference were sustained 3 months post intervention. Chair yoga should be further explored as a nonpharmacologic intervention for older people with OA in the lower extremities.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT02113410.

Keywords: chair yoga; osteoarthritis; pain management; randomized controlled trial.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Fatigue / physiopathology
  • Fatigue / therapy
  • Female
  • Gait / physiology
  • Health Education
  • Humans
  • Lower Extremity / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Osteoarthritis / physiopathology
  • Osteoarthritis / therapy*
  • Pain Management
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pilot Projects
  • Postural Balance / physiology
  • Yoga*

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT02113410