Fitness pros may have more opportunities to reach clients with arthritis in hospital-based programs, given that a study has now demonstrated that weekly exercise classes helped people with osteoarthritis improve balance; enjoy life more; experience less pain; and reduce the severity and frequency of falls.
The program, based at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, included tai chi, yoga, Pilates, a blend of yoga and Pilates, and dance exercise classes offered throughout the year, all modified to meet the needs of people with osteoarthritis and other musculoskeletal issues. The set of courses were part of the Osteoarthritis Wellness Initiative, which the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services launched 10 years ago and which includes educational lectures, workshops and exercise classes.
Linda Russell, MD, a rheumatologist at the HHS, pointed out that the classes were low cost for patients and the fees covered the majority of associated costs, including instructor salaries. She said in a press release, “We like to get all of our patients involved in exercise, and if we can help with a low-cost alternative to exercising in New York City, because gyms are expensive, that is wonderful. Patients benefit from supervised exercise programs with regard to their overall sense of well-being and pain due to their arthritis. We encourage other institutions to launch these types of programs.”
Study findings were announced at the annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology/Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals in November 2012 in Washington, DC.