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What Is Arthritis And What Can I Do About It?

Arthritis is a general term for conditions that affects the joints or tissues around the joints. There are more than 100 types of arthritis. Most people with arthritis have pain and stiffness in and around the affected joint or joints. Some types of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, also affect the immune system and some internal organs of the body.

The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) has partnered with the Utah Department of Health to offer Evidence based movement classes to improve the quality of life for people who have arthritis. The class are from the Arthritis Foundation and vary for the different types of health issues that a person may have. Another partner is Dr. Paul Lam who has created a Tai Chi for Health and this is also evidence based. The RSVP Program trains senior volunteers to teach these classes in the Five County Area.


For the classes we have held we have seen many successes, from increased independence in activities of daily leaving, like being able to button tops, mobility to put on pants again to standing to prepare meals. Independent activities like driving are huge source of being independent and losing the range of motion in one’s neck can cause the loss of a driver’s license. The AFEP (Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program) does range of motion exercises that increases dexterity and mobility , this class can be done sitting or standing and the instructor leads a series of stretches and exercises done at her own pace. Several leaders have led the classes at the St. George, Kanab, Cedar City and Escalante Seniors Center since 2009.





A favorite class in our area is Tia Chi for Arthritis. Last summer, due to Covid-19, we held the class outside and several came morning two days a week. We watched as many class members gain movement and ability. This class can be done sitting or standing. This class is to help with our inner Chi or Life Source, through slow movement that has been developed over 100’s of years and teaches breathing techniques to improve health. The class teaches 8 movements for 16 classes, it is best to start at the beginning of a class to learn one movement each week. At the end of 16 classes the movements are put together as a complete Tia Chi Routine.





Stepping-On is a great 7-week program that assists with having seniors meet with professional to work on strategies and habits to prevent falls. This class has weekly strengthening and balance exercise homework and in the 7 weeks those that do the exercises improve their independence. This too is an evidence-based program, and has proven less hospitalizations from falls from those who take this workshop.



The Area Agency on Aging we have been involved with fall prevention for years. Our goal is to seek out classes that would improve the lives of the community we serve. As some of us have aged we have Arthritis and has found these classes helpful to our mobility and independence. We hope to have you join us for one of these classes soon! To find opportunities near you, visit our website: www.areaagencyonagingfivecounty.org/events.



Tracy HeavyRunner is our Home and Community Based Program Director,


She has been with AAA-Five County since 1996. Tracy graduated from Southern Utah University and is a Social Service Worker. Additionally, she is a certified caregiver coach through the Rosalyn Carter Institute and a Master Trainer for the Chronic Disease, Diabetes and Pain Self-Management Programs.

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