Remote classes such as yoga, Pilates, and tai chi are beneficial for people with musculoskeletal problems such as osteoarthritis (OA), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and osteoporosis, according to research presented at the American College of Rheumatology 2021 annual meeting.
After attending biweekly 60-minute low-intensity Zoom fitness classes at six-week increments, participants improved physically and became more socially active, say researchers at the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) in New York City.
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6-Week Remote Program Improved Mobility, Pain, Stiffness, Other Symptoms
Out of the 355 people assessed (among a total of 6,779 participants), 161 self-reported a musculoskeletal condition. Affecting the joints, bones, or muscles, musculoskeletal conditions include inflammatory arthritis and other chronic conditions associated with pain, functional limitations, and disability.
Participants were mostly female, older than 60, and white. That group reported that with any level of participation at every six-week virtual exercise session, they achieved:
- 5 percent reported a decrease in overall pain
- 5 percent decrease in joint stiffness
- 7 percent decrease in pain while walking
- 8 percent decrease in fatigue
Those who said they attended twice a week or more for six weeks reported even more improvement:
- 11 percent decrease in pain intensity
- 12 percent decrease in stiffness
- 9 percent decrease in fatigue and decreased pain interference with all aspects of daily living, including general activity levels, mood, walking ability, normal work, relations with others, sleep, and overall enjoyment of life
Livestreaming Exercise Classes Versus On-Demand Online Classes
Live remote exercise programs offer a two-way interactive experience: participants connect to a video conference or meeting remotely with a computer, smartphone, or tablet device, usually from their own home. During the class, people may have the opportunity to talk with others and get personal feedback from the instructor, who can see and hear them via the device’s camera and microphone.
HSS offered a remote, live class that had to be taken at a scheduled time but provided direct interaction with the instructor and other students. Unlike prerecorded classes online (often free) that allow you to participate whenever you choose, the live classes allow for interaction and professional oversight. Online or on-demand fitness classes are similar to the “one-way” classes offered via recording on a videotape or DVD.
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Virtual, Low-Impact Programs Offer Socializing and Support as Well