Cultural Needs' Programs Enhance Exercise Effectiveness

A study conducted by researchers from Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) in New York concluded that low-impact exercise provides a range of benefits to older adults with arthritis and other joint and muscle conditions. Benefits include a reduction in pain levels, improved mobility, and enhanced quality of life. Theodore Fields, MD, director of the Rheumatology Faculty Practice Plan at HSS, commented, "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." The findings were presented earlier this week at the American Public Health Association's annual meeting in Denver.

The study evaluated a low-impact exercise program that was culturally tailored to the needs of Asian senior participants. The CDC has reported that Asian seniors have the highest prevalence of physical inactivity, and 75% have only limited proficiency in English. Chinese Americans are less likely to access health care because of these and other impediments. The program consists of 8 weeks of exercise classes led by bilingual instructors, incorporating Chinese breathing and meditation techniques as well as chair and floor mat exercises. Minlun (Demi) Wu, MPA, research coordinator, Department of Public & Patient Education at HSS, observed, "Our findings indicate that implementing a bilingual low-impact exercise program can play an important role in pain relief, improved quality of life and improved levels of physical activity in the underserved Chinese community."

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