Local senior centers offering classes for arthritis, balance, pain

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

PACE class, Tai Chi, and Matter of Balance available

Two Barry County senior centers are offering help with the physical symptoms of arthritis, while improving balance and increasing overall health and well-being.

The Cassville Senior Center will be offering a PACE class (People With Arthritis Can Exercise), which is tentatively set to begin the end of June.

The class will be offered during the day, at a time to be determined.

PACE is a community-based program developed by the Arthritis Foundation.

"They are designed to help people with arthritis," said Kristina Atwood, Cassville Senior Center administrator. "The goals are to help reduce pain and stiffness, maintain range of motion, help increase balance, and also to just be a general outlet for everyone to meet and have some fun while we exercise. The exercise can be done standing up or sitting down, so you move at your own pace."

Although the exercise offers other health benefits, Atwood said its main focus is helping those with rheumatoid and osteoarthritis reduce symptoms and make life more manageable.

"Our main focus in the arthritis," she said.

The class is open to anyone suffering from the effects of arthritis, regardless of their age, Atwood said.

A study was completed to determine participant satisfaction of the class by asking 347 participants residing in 18 urban and rural communities across North Carolina their opinions. Of the 51 participants interviewed, 96 percent were female, with an average age of 67, and range of ages 32-90.

Participants reported receiving substantial social support from exercising in a group with others who have arthritis, and pinpointed two main factors that motivated them to continue attending: the ability to work at their own pace during the class, and confidence that they could do different kinds of exercise safely.

The study concluded that a group exercise program for older adults with arthritis promotes a sense of social support and increases self-efficacy for exercise by allowing participants to work at their own pace.

The Central Crossing Senior Center in Shell Knob is also offering options to help alleviate physical symptoms of various kinds and promote wellness with a Tai Chi class, which just started, and its Matter of Balance class.

"I used to teach Tai Chi at my church," said Rita Goodhead, class instructor. "It's good for balance, blood pressure, diabetics and helps with arthritis. It's just a very good program to offer, and lasts anywhere from 30-45 minutes."

Goodhead said she does a warm-up session, and participants learn one step, which is what Tai Chi is made up of, at a time.

Unlike yoga, an exercise which consists mainly of poses, Tai Chi involves gentle movements.

"Yoga has no flow, it's just poses, whereas Tai Chi is a gentle movement of hands and feet and one movement just flows into the next," Goodhead said.

The class, which is offered Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9-9:45 a.m., will be offered on an ongoing basis, Goodhead said, as long as there is interest. There is no age limit on attending.

"People are welcome to come," Goodhead said.

The center is also continuing its Matter of Balance class, which takes place on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8 a.m., and is seeing good participation.

"The class helps people with their balance," Goodhead said. "It is part sitting and standing. We use a chair part of the time to hold onto. I think it's a very good program. I attend it, too."

There is no charge to attend the classes at either center.

Both centers advise participants to discuss any concerns with their doctor before attending.

For more information, people may call the Cassville Senior Center at 417-847-0131, or the Central Crossing Senior Center at 417-858-6952.

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