Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. The CDC estimates one in five adults have some form of the disease, including 1.3 million Missourians. There is no cure for arthritis, but it can be treated with medication, lifestyle changes and exercise.
The females in training program at the Missouri Athletic Center offers aquatic exercise classes for women with arthritis. The most common arthritis, osteoarthritis, affects nearly 21 million adults nationwide over the age of 45.
Columbia resident Lenda Kidd has lived with osteoarthritis for over a decade.
"I was having great difficulty getting up and down stairs. And when I was doing cooking, you know, like peeling potatoes, or something with my hands, because I'm used to using a paring knife, it was getting more difficult as time went on," Kidd explains.
Fabiola Lopez teaches two aquatic exercise sessions a week at the MAC.
"You know, we take for granted that you can just stand up right now and walk. People with arthritis, its a struggle to get up and move. But if you exercise, it gives you relief, and you feel better. They have more energy," Lopez said.
Exercising in water can make it easier for people with arthritis, because less weight is put on the joints.
"I've been in this class since I had back surgery four years ago, and for a whole year I was unable to walk much, bend, whatever. And this class helped me to overcome it," Dell Keepers, arthritis patient, said.
Recent research has shown that losing just 15 pounds can reduce pain by half for people with knee osteoarthritis. However, exercise can be more difficult for people with the disease.
"Its incredible. If you don't have arthritis, you cannot understand how people, they suffer. Because they cannot do movements that we take for granted; they cannot reach, they cannot lean forward. Their movements are slow, and when they do it, its painful," Fabiola explains.
"If I hadn't took this class, I would probably be in a wheelchair by now. Its keeping my joints loosened and more lubricated," Lenda explains.
Arthritis is a daily struggle for many Americans. Exercise is one part of the puzzle to better living. With the baby-boomers coming of age, the CDC expects the number of senior citizens with arthritis to double in the next 25 years.