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TAI CHI        PACE®         AFAP

Good Advice

Before you begin any exercise program, be sure to ask your doctor's advice about specific movements to avoid.

  • Don't try to learn from a video or book. It's best to learn from a teacher who can make sure you are doing the movements correctly. As you learn the basics, you can practice on your own or with a video.
  • Choose your teacher carefully. Make sure the instructor is experienced teaching people with arthritis and can guide you with the safest movements.
  • Warm up before class and cool down afterward. The exercises may not seem strenuous, but they do work joints and muscles.
  • Modify the movements if necessary. For example, some exercises are done with bent knees. If you have knee involvement, you may need to adapt those movements to be safe and comfortable.
  • Be cautious when you have a flare or sore joint. Many experts say you can still exercise, but carefully.  Check with your doctor if you are not sure, and stop if it makes you hurt more or if you feel pain two hours after the class.
  • Never push or exert yourself beyond your individual limits. 

TAI CHI Program

With slow movements as fluid as silk, the gentle Chinese practice of Tai Chi seems tailor-made for easing sore joints and muscles.

Tai Chi from the Arthritis Foundation® is a program based on the Australian Tai Chi for Arthritis program, which was designed to improve the quality of life for people with arthritis. The program utilizes Sun style Tai Chi; one of the four major recognized styles of Tai Chi. This style is particularly effective for people with arthritis because it includes agile steps and exercises that may improve mobility, breathing and relaxation.  In addition, the movements have higher stances, which make it easier and more comfortable to learn.  The program itself consists of twelve movements (6 basic and 6 advanced), a warm up and a cool down. The program goals are to improve the health status and quality of life of those with arthritis.

PACE® (People with Arthritis Can Exercise)

For many years it was thought that people with arthritis and related conditions shouldn't exercise because it would damage their joints. Today, however, doctors and therapists know that moderate physical activity can improve your health without hurting your joints. With this in mind, the Arthritis Foundation introduced PACE® (People with Arthritis Can Exercise).

PACE® is an exercise program designed specifically for people with arthritis that uses gentle activities to help increase joint flexibility and range of motion and to help maintain muscle strength. It also helps increase overall stamina. Because there are many different types of arthritis and related conditions, levels of fitness, and degrees of limitation, two levels of PACE® classes are available - basic and advanced.

Instructors who have undergone a special Arthritis Foundation instructor-training workshop conduct classes. The exercises you learn in the PACE® program, however, should not replace therapeutic exercises prescribed for you by a therapist.

Participants previously enrolled in the PACE® program have experienced such benefits as increased functional ability, increased self-care behaviors, decreased pain and decreased depression.

Arthritis Foundation Aquatic Program (AFAP)

If you have a form of arthritis or a related condition, your physician may recommend that you begin an exercise program to help improve your flexibility and decrease pain. If you're searching for a program that will lessen joint stiffness, increase your stamina and still be fun, aquatic exercise may be the answer for you.

Water is a safe, ideal environment for relieving arthritis pain and stiffness. That's why the Arthritis Foundation offers its Aquatic Program, designed to safely keep your joints moving and improve your sense of well-being. The Arthritis Foundation Aquatic Program (AFAP) is a water exercise program designed for people with arthritis and related conditions. Water exercise is especially good for people with arthritis, because it allows you to exercise without putting excess strain on your joints and muscles. The AFAP gives you the opportunity to do gentle activities in warm water, with guidance from a trained instructor. Although it is a non-clinical program (one that will not replace a prescribed regimen of therapeutic exercise), past participants have enjoyed some physical benefits such as decreased pain and stiffness.

The AFAP also provides a friendly and supportive atmosphere in which you can make new friends and try new activities. This social interaction can help decrease feelings of depression and isolation. Progress in the aquatic activities can lead to independence and improved self-esteem.

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