Tai chi classes in Plum, Penn Hills to offer alternative for arthritis sufferers
By Karen Zapf
Published: Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, 8:59 p.m.
Connie Ainsworth knows about beating the odds.
Ainsworth, 59, a Plum native who lives in Penn Hills, successfully beat uterine cancer in 2001, then breast cancer in 2004.
Ainsworth, a tai chi instructor, decided to put her fighting spirit to work for those with arthritis. She recently became certified by the U.S. Arthritis Foundation to teach tai chi to people dealing with the disease and will lead classes in Penn Hills and Plum.
An estimated 50 million adults in the U.S. suffer from the more than 100 different rheumatic diseases that comprise arthritis, most commonly osteoarthritis, a chronic joint disease of the hands, hips, knees and spine, and rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease affecting the joints, according to the Arthritis Foundation website.
An additional 300,000 children under the age of 16 are afflicted with juvenile arthritis, which causes persistent joint pain and can result in growth problems and eye inflammation.
Ainsworth is all too familiar with the hardships associated with arthritis.
Christina Ross, 12, of Butler, Ainsworth's great-niece, four years ago was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.
“It's in five of her joints,” Ainsworth said.
Many in the baby-boomer generation, such as those in Ainsworth's age group, are experiencing the arthritic effects of stresses and strains to their bodies, Ainsworth said.
“My generation suffered from the abuses we put our bodies through,” Ainsworth said. “We were the generation that partied a lot and experienced the excess of life. Aerobics and fitness were not big then. I wish I would have known what I know now when I was younger.”
Ainsworth said her class will include instruction in proper movement.
The keys to success for those with arthritis are gentle movements, breathing properly and meditating rather than high-impact aerobic activities, Ainsworth said. Those keys are at the heart of tai chi.
“There's no bouncing like in aerobics,” Ainsworth said. “The calmness is awesome.”
The same goes for those who have been afflicted with cancer.
“Most cancer survivors take medication that affects your joints, therefore walking and writing is painful,” Ainsworth said.
The gentle movements help with flexibility and muscle strengthening.
The Plum Senior Community Center on Center New Texas Road also offers tai chi classes.
Currently, a beginning class conducted by instructor Jim Davis is on Wednesdays through Jan. 9. Classes take place at 7:30 p.m.
Ainsworth said another benefit of tai chi for arthritis sufferers is that many times they can reduce the medication they are taking for the disease.
“It (tai chi) has such great effects,” Ainsworth said.
Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8753, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Former Plum mayor, who helped establish borough EMS, dies
- Holiday Park Elementary groundbreaking soggy, optimistic
- Plum Community center makes name change to appeal to all ages
- Plum School Board names new president
- Plum School Board contemplates building new bus garage
- Plum school board OKs new bus-route plotting software
- Plum to weigh options for types of tutoring programs