Senior Center Welcomes Exercise Program

14 Flushing Senior Exercise

Seniors exercise in an Asian Community Bone Health exercise class at a senior center in Chinatown. A similar program is coming to Selfhelp Senior Center in Flushing.

Staff Writer

At first glance, exercise may seem counterintuitive for seniors with arthritis or joint pain. But a yoga program coming to a Flushing senior center looks to be just what the doctor ordered.

A yoga exercise series is being offered this winter to members of the Selfhelp Benjamin Rosenthal Prince Street Senior Center in Flushing. The course comes from the Hospital for Special Surgery, located in Manhattan. The hospital also has a physician office in Fresh Meadows.

In December and January, yoga classes will come to Selfhelp, after meeting a great amount of success at other centers in Flushing and Manhattan’s Chinatown. One of the main issues the Hospital for Special Surgery hopes to address with this program is the aging Asian population, which grew by 64 percent between 2000 and 2010.

“This population is at risk for arthritis and osteoporosis,” Laura Robbins, doctor of social work and senior vice president of Education and Academic Affairs at Special Surgery, said. “They are more than twice as likely to have no health insurance coverage compared to other major race and ethnic groups.”

To help out this population, the hospital created the Asian Community Bone Health Initiative, which holds bilingual education and exercise classes.

The program was offered between November 2011 and September 2013, with a total of 199 participants taking part in 80 sessions. According to a survey taken by 119 of those participants, 48 percent less reported having daily pain. Eighty-three percent said they were able to bend, kneel or stoop easier.

“Yoga helps relax stiff muscles, ease sore joints and helps build strength,” Sandra Goldsmith, MA, MS, RD, director of Public and Patient Education, and Huijuan Huang, MPA, program coordinator, said. “The yoga program also covers range-of-motion movements, stretching exercises and deep breathing relaxation techniques.”

The Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program is mainly made up of chair-based exercises and beginner’s yoga. It will take place on Dec. 5, 12, 19 and Jan. 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30. The program will be taught in English. There are plans for a Chinese-language course at the center and around the same dates, but at different times.

“If it is the first time a senior is trying yoga exercise, we encourage her/him to try one class first and see whether she/he likes it. We also encourage them to consult with their doctors to see whether yoga is the right exercise for them,” Goldsmith and Huijuan said. “Sometimes, there are people on the waiting list. We will take those members who are able to commit for all eight weeks first.”

The senior center is located at 45-25 Kissena Blvd. in Flushing. For more information, call (718) 886-5777.

Reach Joe Marvilli at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 125,, or @Joey788.