New York, NY—June 23, 2014
Experts say it's never too late to reap the benefits of exercise, and a program offered in senior centers in Queens has been recognized for improving quality of life for many older adults. The Asian Community Bone Health Initiative, offered by Hospital for Special Surgery, received an Honorable Mention Award for Community Health Improvement from the Healthcare Association of New York State at a ceremony on June 19.
The exercise program, offered in senior centers in Flushing and in Manhattan’s Chinatown, has helped decrease pain, improve mobility and enhance the overall health of many participants, according to a study by the Manhattan hospital.
"It may seem counterintuitive, but research has shown that exercise can actually be beneficial for people who have arthritis," explained Laura Robbins, senior vice president of Education and Academic Affairs at Hospital for Special Surgery. "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. This population is at risk for osteoarthritis and osteoporosis. Cultural and linguistic barriers limit access to healthcare services."
The hospital developed the Bone Health Initiative to address these issues. "It is gratifying that the program has been recognized, as the initiative plays an important role in helping us meet the health needs of older adults living in New York City," said Sandra Goldsmith, MA, MS, RD, director of Public and Patient Education at Hospital for Special Surgery.
The program includes eight-week sessions of the Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program (AFEP) and yoga exercise classes taught by bilingual instructors to promote self-management of arthritis and other muscle and joint conditions.
"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 A.Russell, MD, a rheumatologist at Hospital for Special Surgery. "People believe that if you have arthritis you shouldn’t exercise, but appropriate exercises actually help decrease pain."
The AFEP sessions offered by HSS instructors consist mainly of chair-based exercises. The yoga sessions feature beginner yoga classes. The goal is to help participants decrease muscle and joint pain, stiffness and fatigue; improve balance; reduce falls; and increase physical activity.
In surveys conducted following the classes, almost half of the participants reported less pain on a daily basis. The number of adults who could climb several flights of stairs increased by 69 percent after the program; 83 percent more seniors could bend, kneel, or stoop; and 50 percent more reported that they could lift and carry groceries.
"The survey results indicate that the hospital's Bone Health Initiative has a positive impact on the musculoskeletal health of the senior Asian population," said Huijuan Huang, MPA, program coordinator. "The hospital will continue to offer culturally-sensitive programs to this community to help them stay active, decrease pain and improve their overall health."