Tai Chi for arthritis and fall prevention

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Students gather twice weekly for Tai Chi for Arthritis and Fall Prevention sponsored by Northeast Iowa Agency on Aging. (Press photo by Caroline Rosacker)

By Caroline Rosacker

Northeast Iowa Area Agency on Aging (NEI3A) promotes healthy lifestyles by offering a variety of health and wellness classes to help aging individuals stay active and independent.

In Guttenberg, Tai Chi for Arthritis and Fall Prevention classes has been well attended by area residents. Certified Instructor Patty Scholtes, who has been teaching Tai Chi for over seven-and-a-half years, teaches the ongoing classes. Scholtes is an NEI3A employee with the health, nutrition, and wellness program. Classes are held each Monday and Thursday from 10:30 - 11:15 a.m. in the top floor of the Guttenberg Municipal Building, and offered on a contribution basis for those over the age of 60. For those under 60 the cost is $4 per class.

Tai Chi

Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese low-impact, relaxing exercise program that promotes strength, flexibility and balance, and is ideal for older individuals. Often called moving meditation, these gentle exercises create harmony between mind and body. 

Those attending are guided through a warm-up, cool down, and 12 introductory forms. Modifications are made for those who need to remain seated for all or most of the class.

The Guttenberg group, who is about halfway through the eight-week series, had high praise for their instructor and the health benefits they are experiencing through their Tai Chi practice. "Tai Chi should not be thought of as a 'one and done' exercise class but rather as a journey towards better health, allowing individuals to travel that path at their own pace and continuing the steps toward improvement, but not a final destination," say organizers. 

Student testimonials

Student say stress relief and balance are at the top of  the list. "I am a multi-tasker, so slowing down and focusing on my practice has reduced my level of stress, and the forms have increased my sense of balance," says Karilyn McArthur. 

Susan Sheldon of Guttenberg appreciates her practice. "My balance and level of concentration have improved. The forms teach us muscle memory, which eventually leads to stress relief," Susan noted. "In the beginning we all placed chairs by our sides for security if we lost our balance. Now no one uses a chair." 

"Yes! And all of your posture has greatly improved. You are all standing much taller," encouraged instructor Scholtes.

Becky Hefel of Guttenberg enjoys the beautiful, peaceful flow. "If I relax and rely on muscle memory, the forms flow with ease. The minute random thoughts cause me to lose my concentration —  I lose my place. This encourages me to focus and stay present in the moment," Becky told The Press. 

"Tai Chi gives us more energy and we are surprised, despite the fact that we are moving slowly, that we can work up a sweat," many of the students mentioned. 

Monthly Health and Wellness classes

Scholtes also offers once a month Health and Wellness classes through NEI3A, on the first Wednesday of the month in the lower level of the Municipal Building at 10 a.m. before the weekly bingo game.  "I offer a sample of a prepared healthy dish and provide the recipe, along with tips on how to utilize food they already have in their refrigerator, freezer and pantry, and how to save money on groceries. And of course encourage exercise and movement," she concluded with a smile. 

For additional information call 1-800-779-8707, or contact, or see online

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