Arthritis sufferers reaping the benefits of group strength exercise

IT can be hard to start exercising when you are living with pain, stiffness and inflammation.

That is why Arthritis & Osteoporosis Tasmania is delivering group strength training exercise classes that are gentle and suitable for all levels of ability.

Currently, there are 50 active participants in the ‘Joint Movement’ program who attend weekly classes and are experiencing the benefits of regular structured exercise while having fun.

Joint Movement leader Emma Martyn said exercise leaders understood the challenges participants experienced.

She said exercises could be modified to meet the needs of the individual.

“Strength exercise strengthens muscles, bones and joints – stronger muscles enable you to do more,” she said.

“If you experience pain, exercise actually helps reduce this by increasing muscle tone around the joint, which takes some of the strain off your joints.

“It is rewarding to see participants progress, build confidence and be able to do things they haven’t been able to do for some years.”

Strength training has specific, well-proven benefits for people of all ages, abilities and fitness levels.

Benefits include less pain without further medications, better movement and balance, flexibility and coordination, improved stamina and ability to undertake daily activities, better recovery from joint surgery and improved feelings of wellbeing.

On the flip side, not being active could worsen osteoarthritis symptoms.

Shirley, a participant from The Joint Movement Program, said before she started attending classes she had difficulty picking up things from the floor.

“Now I can squat down to gather up all the grandchildren’s Lego,” she said.

Another participant, Christine, said she had done nothing in her garden for the past 13 years.

After participating in regular strength training, she said she was able to do gardening and pruning because her shoulder and upper body strength had improved.

Research has shown that exercise has a similar benefit on osteoarthritis symptoms when compared to pain-relieving drugs, but with few unwanted side effects.

New participants to the Joint Movement program attend an individual pre-exercise assessment where they complete six simple fitness tests.

After 10 weeks, they then complete a post assessment to show the improvements gained from attending weekly strength exercise classes.

Positive results from these tests encourage people to keep exercising when they see the progress they have made.

An analysis of the results from a group of 31 participants showed that the average increase in lower body strength was 40 per cent, upper body strength was 43 per cent and aerobic endurance was improved by 50 per cent.

The social side to exercising in a group increases motivation and often some participants meet after class for a coffee and chat.

No matter what your age, the evidence is loud and clear: simple strength training completed regularly can, and will, help.

Group strength classes are $10 per session.

At this stage, classes are offered in Clarence on a Monday morning, Kingston Monday afternoon, Glenorchy Tuesday morning and Huonville Wednesday morning.

If you would like to know more about joining a strength exercise class, place a free call to the Arthritis Infoline on 1800 011 041.

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About the Author: Eastern Shore Sun

The Eastern Shore Sun is your monthly community newspaper, reaching over 30,000 homes and businesses in the communities of Clarence and Sorell. It is the product of Nicolas Turner, Justine Brazil, Ben Hope, Simon Andrews, Tobias Hinds and guest contributors, with support from advertisers.

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