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Exercise classes at JCHE senior housing relieves arthritis pain

Posted: September 30, 2013

The arthritis in Edith Cohen’s neck and arms does not prevent her from exercising. In fact, now that a specialized arthritis class is offered in her building at JCHE’s Coleman House, she doesn’t miss a class.

Francine Godfrey, JCHE’s fitness and wellness director, and her staff lead these classes  -- the Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program (AFEP)-- twice weekly for three months. And when the session ends, most of the residents begin the series again. “If it’s offered, I want to take it,” says Edith.  The classes will soon be held at every JCHE community. In several locations, the classes are led in Russian.

“I started JCHE’s fitness program 15 years ago and I have never seen this level of enthusiasm,” explains Francine. “These classes are not a passing fad. They are absolutely improving life for those who struggle with arthritis.”

Arthritis is pervasive. It’s estimated that more than 50% of adults aged 65 and older contend with it.  Half face physical limitations as a result.

Coleman House resident Joan Slaby describes this well-structured routine of gentle stretches as essential to her wellbeing. “ The arthritis in my lower back is very painful and can be very limiting. When I take this class I see immediate results. It absolutely changes my mobility.”

Thanks to a grant from the Arthritis Foundation, JCHE’s trained and certified fitness instructors have been able to offer this evidence-based program. Through endurance-building exercises, balance exercises, relaxation techniques, health education and socialization, AFEP effectively manages significant pain and improves quality of life.

How does Joan know whether the arthritis exercises are working?  “I always feel better after I’ve taken a class,” she explains. “And, I also know by the aching in my back if I’ve missed a class!”


This post was written by Susan Goodman, JCHE's Director of Communications, and appeared in the Jewish Advocate. It is reprinted with their permission.

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