[Nameplate] Fair ~ 90°F  
Feels like: 97°F
Monday, Aug. 29, 2016

Exercise keeps things moving for seniors

Friday, August 17, 2007

Angela Moore instructs an Arthritis Aquatics class at Missouri Delta Medical Center's ReStart.
SIKESTON -- Head and shoulders above the water's surface, the three women chat about the day's events, their grandchildren -- typical smalltalk.

But below the surface, they are hard at work kicking legs, making circles with hips, legs and arms, as part of an Arthritis Aquatics class.

Exercise classes designed for those with arthritis by the Arthritis Foundation help people take control of the pain associated with arthritis, according to Stephanie Stangle, public relations coordinator for the Foundation's eastern Missouri chapter.

"Exercise has shown to significantly decrease pain and can potentially make arthritis more manageable," Stangle said.

Melba Householder of rural Sikeston couldn't agree more.

"I'll tell you what: this is a godsend," Householder said.

"Once they start it they don't want to quit," said Angela Moore who instructs Householder's class at Missouri Delta Medical Center's ReStart. "It makes it easier to get through their days."

Moore offers seven Arthritis Aquatics classes per month, each with room for four participants who work for 30 minutes twice per week.

"We do signups every month," Moore said. "It's first come, first served." With signups every month, those who sign up too late will probably only miss a single month unless they are picky about their class time, Moore said.

There is so much demand for the classes, Moore is adding an eighth session this month.

The YMCA of Southeast Missouri is seeing the very same demand for their Arthritis Exercise Class held at the Drury Inn's pool.

"Right now the numbers are booming," said Chris Hodgkiss, program director for the YMCA of Southeast Missouri.

With room for 12 participants in the pool, the Y holds two one-hour classes three times per week.

"We've got about 30 ladies in the class. It's open to anybody, but it just happens both of our classes are all female," Hodgkiss said. "We probably have a waiting list of 12-15. We just don't have space for them right now."

While both the YMCA and ReStart offer land-based exercise courses as well, there are several benefits to the aquatic version.

"What's really helpful to them in the water exercise class is it's a natural resistance," Hodgkiss said.

"The water is warm so it kind of relaxes their muscles," Moore said, adding that buoyancy in the water reduces the effects of gravity, too.

Wet or dry, the arthritis exercise classes provide participants with a better quality of life.

"What I hear from most of the ladies in our classes, without coming in and doing these arthritis classes they have a hard time doing everyday things," Hodgkiss said. "They have a hard time just using their fingers to write or eat or type -- whatever they would use their fingers for. They might have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning. Coming in and doing these classes enables them to do those everyday things in life."

The benefits don't just take place when the workout is over, however: most participants enjoy every moment of class time as well.

"We've gotten to be friends," Householder said of her classmates.

"You meet a lot of people," agreed Ava Allen of East Prairie.