Exercise Program in Senior Centers Helps Reduce Pain
and Improve Mobility
Hospital for Special Surgery study shows program
helps reduce arthritis pain for Asian seniors; Arthritis Foundation
Exercise Program used
Exercise class offered by Hospital
for Special Surgery at a senior center in New York City's
Nov. 5, 2013 - Experts say it's never too late to reap the
benefits of exercise, and a program offered in New York City senior
centers is improving quality of life for many Asian senior citizens. Offered by Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) in
senior centers in New York City, the program has helped decrease pain, improve
mobility and enhance the overall health of many participants, according
to a study by HSS.
The research, titled "Impact of an Asian Community
Bone Health Initiative: A Community-Based Exercise Program in New York
City," was presented at the American Public Health Association Annual
Meeting on November 5 in Boston.
The Asian older adult population in New York City
grew by 64 percent from 2000 to 2010, and one in four seniors lived in
poverty in 2010. The program is offered in Chinatown, Flushing and
"This population is at risk for osteoarthritis and
osteoporosis," said Laura Robbins, DSW, senior vice president of
Education and Academic Affairs at HSS.
"They are more than twice as likely to have no
health insurance coverage compared to other major race and ethnic
groups. Cultural and linguistic barriers limit access to healthcare
To address these issues, Hospital for Special
Surgery developed the Asian Community Bone Health Initiative, which is
comprised of culturally-relevant, bilingual education and exercise
classes. The initiative plays an important role in enabling the hospital
to meet the musculoskeletal health needs of Asian older adults living in
New York City, according to Sandra Goldsmith, MA, MS, RD, director of
Public and Patient Education.
The Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program
Low-impact physical activity program; proven to reduce pain and
routines include gentle range-of-motion exercises that are
suitable for every fitness level.
Exercise Program will help you:
• Keep joints flexible and muscles strong
• Sleep better
• Increase energy
• Improve your overall outlook
Six eight-week sessions of the Arthritis Foundation
Exercise Program (AFEP) and three eight-week yoga exercise classes were
conducted by bilingual instructors at four senior centers in Chinatown
and Flushing. The programs promote self-management of arthritis and
other musculoskeletal conditions through exercise.
"Getting seniors to be active in any way will
generally improve their quality of life and help them function better in
their everyday activities," said Linda Russell, MD, a rheumatologist and
chair of the Public and Patient Education Advisory Committee at Hospital
for Special Surgery.
"People believe that if you have arthritis you
shouldn't exercise, but appropriate exercises actually help decrease
The AFEP sessions offered by HSS instructors
consisted mainly of chair-based exercises. The yoga sessions featured
beginner yoga classes.
The goal was to help Asian seniors decrease
musculoskeletal pain, stiffness and fatigue; improve balance; reduce
falls; and increase physical activity.
The program was offered between November 2011 and
September 2013, with a total of 199 participants. A survey was
distributed before and after the exercise classes to evaluate pain,
function and other health indicators, and 119 participants responded.
Nearly all respondents were female and age 65 or
older. In the survey, many participants reported that their pain
intensity dropped and interfered less with their quality of life. The
following statistically significant results are noteworthy:
48% fewer participants had pain on a daily basis after completing
69% more participants could climb several flights of stairs after
83% more participants could bend, kneel, or stoop
50% more participants could lift/carry groceries
39% of participants felt the program reduced their fatigue
30% participants felt that the program reduced their stiffness
"The study results indicate that the hospital's
Bone Health Initiative has a positive impact on the musculoskeletal
health of the Asian senior population," said Huijuan Huang, MPA, program
coordinator. "While further research is needed, HSS will continue to
offer culturally-sensitive programs to this community to help seniors
stay active, decrease pain and improve their overall health."
About Hospital for Special
Founded in 1863, Hospital for
Special Surgery (HSS) reports to be a world leader in orthopedics,
rheumatology and rehabilitation. HSS is nationally ranked No. 1 in
orthopedics, No. 4 in rheumatology, and No. 5 in geriatrics by U.S.News
& World Report (2013-14), and is the first hospital in New York State to
receive Magnet Recognition for Excellence in Nursing Service from the
American Nurses Credentialing Center three consecutive times. HSS has
one of the lowest infection rates in the country. From 2007 to 2012, HSS
has been a recipient of the HealthGrades Joint Replacement Excellence
Award. HSS is a member of the NewYork-Presbyterian Healthcare System and
an affiliate of Weill Cornell Medical College and as such all Hospital
for Special Surgery medical staff are faculty of Weill Cornell. The
hospital's research division is internationally recognized as a leader
in the investigation of musculoskeletal and autoimmune diseases.
Hospital for Special Surgery is located in New York City and online at
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