NEW YORK, Nov. 1, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- It's never too late to reap the benefits of exercise, and that includes older adults with arthritis and other muscle and joint conditions, according to a study. Researchers at Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) found that a low-impact exercise program in senior centers in New York City's Chinatown and Flushing, Queens communities helped decrease pain, improve mobility and enhance quality of life for many participants.
The study, titled, "Effects of a Culturally Tailored Low-Impact Exercise Program for Chinese Older Adults in NYC," was presented at the American Public Health Association annual meeting on November 1 in Denver. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Asian seniors had the highest rate of physical inactivity (defined as no physical activity beyond basic daily life activities), 29% of them lived in poverty, and 75% had limited English language proficiency in 2012. In addition, Chinese Americans were less likely to seek health care because of cost and language and cultural barriers. "In 2011, HSS developed the Asian Community Bone Health Initiative, a culturally-tailored low-impact exercise program aimed at improving musculoskeletal health in the underserved Chinese older adult community," said Minlun ( Demi) Wu, MPA, research coordinator, Department of Public & Patient Education at Hospital for Special Surgery. "Joints will often stiffen if not used, and muscles will weaken if not exercised. Our bodies are meant to move, and inactivity leads to weakness and stiffness, and joints with arthritis often worsen with inactivity," said Theodore Fields, MD, director, Rheumatology Faculty Practice Plan at HSS. The exercise classes, which were free and open to community members, took place once a week for eight weeks. Participants performed chair and floor mat exercises using stretch bands and other gentle exercises. Certified bilingual instructors made the sessions culturally relevant by integrating Chinese breathing techniques and meditation into the program.