Arthritis is one of the most debilitating, life-changing diseases many adults face. It is an inflammation in the joints that causes constant pain and stiffness (which can worsen with age). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-third of adults suffering with arthritis state that it limits their daily activities and ability to perform work (25 percent of these individuals say it causes severe pain). In light of this common, yet painful, disease, Spring Creek Seniors Partners (SCSP) will be hosting a Tai Chi class every Monday and Wednesday at 3pm. Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese martial arts form that uses gentle, fluid-like movements to stretch muscles, control breathing and maintain continuous motion.
Tai Chi is said to be an exercise for both the body and mind, cultivating a person’s Chi (their life-force or energy).
On June 5th, seniors met for their first Tai Chi orientation and registration. The class filled out a few information packets, received some background on the martial arts form, and watched a sample video showcasing what they will be learning during the upcoming weeks. “Tai Chi looks a lot like slow dancing. Every movement will make your muscles stronger,” said Tatyana Podluszkiy, R.N., NORC Community Health Nurse, Spring Creek Senior Partners and Maimonides Medical Center. “Seniors can do Tai Chi sitting down, against a wall for support or on their own. We want seniors to know that physical exercise doesn’t have to be fast-paced movements,” Podluszkiy said.
This year’s Tai Chi program will be the third time it has been instilled at SCSP. According to SCSP Director, Theodora Ziongas, last year’s Tai Chi classes were so successful, they had to run an additional program immediately preceding their first session.
SCSP summer class follows the work of Dr. Paul Lam’s Tai Chi for Arthritis Program. Taught by a certified instructor, the program is said to help relieve arthritis pain, improve muscle and joint movement, as well as improve a sense of well-being within a short period of time. The reason practicing Tai Chi helps relieve arthritis pain is because it increases muscle strength (so that there is less pressure on the joints), improves flexibility, (allowing blood flow and joint fluid to circulate) and it’s a form of meditation (which enables the mind to relax and reduces stress).
Etta Green has been suffering with arthritis pain in her joints for about 12 years. She has tried everything to relieve the pain, but this time instead of medication she wants to try Tai Chi. “I want to see if I can loosen up my joints because the arthritis is painful,” Green said.
Arthritis affects various joints, from hands to knees, however, it all causes the same problem—pain when moving. Glen Hardy wants there to be a day when it does not hurt to walk up the stairs. “I want to try Tai Chi and see if by approving my agility I’m able to move without being in pain,” Glen said.
Even if you are not suffering from arthritis, you can join SCSP’s Tai Chi for Arthritis program. For more information and to register call 718- 348-7620.
Photos by: Amanda Moses