Learn about the power of tai chi as low-impact exercise

  • Tai Chi for Arthritis and Fall Prevention class with instructor Diana Nielsen and participants John Bolash, Connie Lokos and Sandy Dial. The class it is geared toward adults ages 55 and older who would like a gentle, low-impact program that increases balance, mobility, flexibility and lower body strength.

    Tai Chi for Arthritis and Fall Prevention class with instructor Diana Nielsen and participants John Bolash, Connie Lokos and Sandy Dial. The class it is geared toward adults ages 55 and older who would like a gentle, low-impact program that increases balance, mobility, flexibility and lower body strength. Courtesy of J. Bullaro

 
Submitted by Diana Nielsen
Updated 9/30/2020 1:47 PM

The Tai Chi for Arthritis and Fall Prevention program helps improve balance, flexibility, strength and general sense of well-being.

It can be performed indoors or outdoors, alone or in socially distanced groups, requires no special equipment, and is easy on the joints and soothing to the mind.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The Tai Chi for Arthritis and Fall Prevention is recommended by both the Arthritis Foundation and the National Council on Aging to reduce arthritis pain and fall risk, increase balance, strength and flexibility, and decrease stress.

The Tai Chi for Arthritis and Fall Prevention program, developed by Dr. Paul Lam, a family physician in Sydney, Australia, uses the Sun style of tai chi, which has been modified to make it gentle on the joints.

Often described as "meditation in motion," it consists of slow, continuous movements with a focus on body awareness, balance, posture, weight shifting, and calming the mind.

The program is performed using a higher stance than most other forms of tai chi, and any martial arts moves with higher risk have been modified or replaced with safer alternatives. This makes it both easier and safer for arthritis sufferers and those at risk for falls.

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Student Connie Lokos agrees. "I was worried about falling, and at times the pain in my knees was preventing me from hiking with my husband, so I decided to see if tai chi would help. I now have decreased knee pain and I feel more confident in situations that could lead to a fall."

Each class consists of warm up and cool down exercises, a review of previously learned moves, and the learning of one or two new moves in a positive and supportive environment.

Over the course of the six-week program, participants will build the balance and muscular strength that is important in both preventing falls and in stabilizing and protecting arthritic joints. It is geared toward adults 55 and older.

All classes will follow pandemic precautions including limited class size, social distancing, and mandatory use of face coverings with no physical contact in class.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The Medinah Park District will be hosting a class starting at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 8, at the Connolly Recreation Center, 22W130 Thorndale Ave., Medinah. Register in advance by calling (630) 893-2560.

The Amita Health Rehabilitation Hospital, 935 Beisner Road in Elk Grove Village, will also be hosting two classes, one starting at 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 10, and another starting at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 13. Register in advance for these classes by calling (847) 981-5556, option 2.

The cost to attend any of these programs is $60 for six, one-hour sessions. All participants for this program must be able to walk unassisted for at least 100 feet for safety.

All of the above classes will be taught by Diana Nielsen, a licensed occupational therapy assistant and a certified instructor of the Tai Chi for Arthritis and Fall Prevention program.

For details, email TCAFP.DN@gmail.com.

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