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Free arthritis tai chi offered in Red Bank

Affecting one in five adults, arthritis is the second most frequently reported chronic condition in the U.S., according to the Arthritis Foundation website. A more frequent cause of activity limitation than heart disease, cancer or diabetes, arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. and a serious threat to the quality of life of millions of people.

In an effort to combat the effects of the condition on adults in this area, the Southeast Area Agency on Aging and Disability is holding a free arthritis tai chi class at Red Bank Community Center. The eight-week workshop will be held Mondays and Wednesdays at 2 p.m. starting April 28.

The self-paced class involves slow, fluid movements and is not aerobic in nature, said Catherine Pippin, program manager for the Southeast Tennessee Area Agency on Aging and Disability.

“You can remain seated if you have mobility issues,” she said, adding that the exercises work all the participant’s joints. “Utilizing those joints is encouraged by doctors so they don’t lose range of motion.”

Tai chi exercises also help participants with daily activities, such as making jars easier to open, because the joints are looser.

“If you’re dealing with arthritis on a daily basis, this is an opportunity to learn exercises that are economic to do and can be done sitting in a chair at home in front of the TV,” said Pippin.

In addition to relaxing the body, tai chi also improves balance and flexibility and reduces stress.

“The more we use our joints and stay active, the more likely we are to keep doing activities we enjoy,” she said. “That really lends to a high quality of life.”

Leading the class is Judy Lyons, who is certified by the Arthritis Foundation. She typically leads two free arthritis tai chi workshops for STAAAD per year, with the most recent being held in the fall at the Soddy-Daisy Senior Center.

“We have limited ability to offer these classes,” she said. “We try to make them available to a variety of folks. We know there’s a great need for it.”

Pippin said the class is nearing its limit of 25 participants. Those interested should call 424-4281 as soon as possible to register, which must be done prior to the class in order to participate.