Here adults utilize a water aerobics class that is incorporating flotation devices. Water exercise for those suffering with arthritis is a gentle way to exercise joints and muscles. It also raises a person’s body temperature, causing blood vessels to dilate and increase circulation. Finally, water supports joints, lessens stress, allows free movement and provides mild resistance to build muscle strength. Courtesy photo
By ANANDA COLEMAN
• Leader & Times
If Daryl Hale, a Liberal senior citizen, did not attend the Arthritis Aquatic Program at the Seward County Community College Wellness Center, her life would be drastically different.
“I wouldn’t even be moving if I hadn’t had this class,” Hale said.
Hale is one of the 7,000 people in Liberal afflicted with some form of the disease.
“Arthritis can affect even the slightest thing, like making a sandwich,” said Tyler Richard, Arthritis Aqua Program instructor.
Richard leads participants in twice-weekly sessions at the SCCC-ATS indoor swimming pool. Water exercise is a gentle way to exercise joints and muscles. It also raises a person’s body temperature, causing blood vessels to dilate and increase circulation. Finally, water supports joints, lessens stress, allows free movement and provides mild resistance to build muscle strength.
“I feel better,” Hale said. “I have a little more energy, and I feel better about myself. When we have a bigger class, it’s a lot of fun, too.”
In theory, the Arthritis Aqua Program should be overfilled, since Seward County is home to thousands of people who have been diagnosed with arthritis. In reality, Richard’s class sees only 0.001 percent of the arthritis population attend.
During the past semester, “we had about seven,” Richard said. “I would like to get at least 20 enrolled.”
There are more than 100 different types of arthritis. Nearly all are characterized by pain, stiffness and swelling of the joints. This can lead to loss of joint motion or function. People with severe arthritis experience so much pain they want to hold very still and avoid activities that increase the pain. However, this proves to be a double-edged sword because inactivity causes shortened, tighter muscles. This causes even more pain and less mobility.
Hale said that many people would benefit from the experience, if they would just give it a chance. The cost for senior citizens is minimal, and the class atmosphere welcoming.
“This is an important and valuable asset for the community, and people need to take advantage of it,” she said, adding, “We’re fortunate that the college is willing to send the instructors to Wichita to get the necessary training.”
Richard didn’t originally plan to be an instructor for an aquatic therapy class.
“I stumbled upon it really,” Richard laughed. “The instructor out here had to stop. I’d had to life guard the arthritis class a lot, and I already knew a lot of their exercises. The college let me teach with the understanding that the next time training was available, I would take it. I really enjoy making their daily life a little easier,” he said.
Hale hopes more people will have that experience.
“I just hope and want this class to continue for the benefit of Seward County,” she said.