Prior to 3/5/2008 the newsclips are available in a PDF archive.
News Clips 11/08/2013
FAU gets grant to study chair yoga's benefits for senior
Source: Sun Sentinel, 11/07/13
View Original Article
By Nicole Brochu
Florida Atlantic University instructors will be testing out the effectiveness of a chair yoga program designed for older adults who can no longer exercise while standing.
The National Institutes of Health awarded two FAU professors a $389,000 grant to study the "Sit N Fit" program on seniors with osteoarthritis and other joint conditions.
The program, which has been taught for about three years at the school's Boca Raton campus and at a senior center in Deerfield Beach, has been shown to relieve pain for wheelchair participants and improve balance and gait speed for those not in a wheelchair, said Ruth McCaffrey, the study's principal investigator and a Sharon B. Raddock Distinguished Professor at FAU's Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing.
"What we know is there are lots of chair yoga programs being offered in the community, in senior centers and libraries, but none has been studied for effectiveness, and some are taught by people who have not been trained," McCaffrey said. "We want to develop an evidence-based chair yoga program that can be taught by anyone [who's trained]."
McCaffrey and her research partner, FAU School of Social Work assistant professor Juyoung Park, are looking for 120 seniors age 65 or older who have osteoarthritis, a joint problem or other conditions that prevent them from performing standing exercises. The study is open to anyone from South Florida. Those completing the program will get a $100 stipend.
Participants will be randomly separated into two groups: one taking the chair yoga program and the other, a comparison group, participating in health education sessions that will focus on vitamin intake, body mechanics, stress management, brain function and prescription management. The goal will be to determine whether the "Sit N Fit" program yields more benefits than educational classes in improving pain, balance, gait speed and walking ability, McCaffrey said.
Beginning in February, both groups will attend one-hour classes twice a week, either at the Northeast Focal Point Senior Center in Deerfield Beach, or at the Douglas Gardens North housing facility in Pembroke Pines.
The classes will be held for 18 months, then McCaffrey and Park will have six months to analyze the data. Their findings will be published in medical and nursing journals, McCaffrey said, adding that the pair hopes to eventually conduct a much wider study involving multiple locations around the country.
"One thing we're aiming to do, once we study the safety and effectiveness of the program, is offer training exercises" at a minimal cost for anyone interested in leading an evidence-based chair yoga class, she said.
Half of all Americans may develop symptomatic osteoarthritis by the age of 85, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which estimated that older adults with osteoarthritis in the knee can reduce their risk of disability by 47 percent if they engage in moderate physical activity at least three times a week.
Exercise programs that keep seniors moving can help them stay healthy and self-sufficient longer, McCaffrey said.
"We've really had great success with" the "Sit N Fit" program, she said, "and we are looking forward to expanding it to more seniors and keeping people moving."