Kathryn Winkler started driving
her 85-year-old mom Katharina
to an exercise class in Calgary for
osteoarthritis. A short time later, she
she moved off the sidelines and began
“I thought, ‘I’m here anyway, and
I have a little bit of osteoarthritis
developing in my hips, so it can’t hurt,
right?’ ” the 56-year-old Winkler recalls.
She’s glad she did. After completing
the eight-week program, she reports less
pain and better mobility.
“This isn’t just for seniors. It’s great
for everyone,” Winkler says. “I think it’s
one of the first things to prescribe when
someone has osteoarthritis.”
The Good Life with osteoArthritis:
Denmark (GLA:D) program is currently
offered in 39 clinics in 18 communities
across the province. Alberta Health
Services partners with physiotherapy
clinics to deliver the program.
People who sign up for GLA:D
get information about osteoarthritis,
managing symptoms, handling
difficulties with daily activities, and why
and how exercise can help.
In hour-long group exercise sessions,
participants learn how to: sit and stand
properly; control movement; build
muscular strength through functional
exercises; and apply these exercises to
“Through the GLA:D program, people
with osteoarthritis can learn to gain some
control over their chronic conditions,”
Kira Ellis says. She is the provincial
osteoarthritis practice lead with the AHS
Bone and Joint Health Strategic Clinical
“They can improve their own
functional mobility and take steps to
reduce their pain through exercise and
GLA:D Canada reports participants'
pain decreases, on average, by 30 per
cent and that their increased physical
activity improves their quality of life.
Close to three-quarters of participants
say they use their new knowledge about
osteoarthritis daily, and another quarter
of participants use the information at
least once a week.
Paul Fitzpatrick, a 68-year-old
Calgarian with severe arthritis in both
knees, was an early GLA:D participant.
He says he sees a surgeon once a year
to see if the time has come for knee
“The last time I saw him, he said,
‘Keep on doing whatever you’re doing,’”
Fitzpatrick says. “It’s definitely helped
me. The longer I can postpone surgery,
Fitzpatrick is a former marathon
runner who doesn’t have the added
stress of excess weight on his joints. He
nevertheless still sees several benefits to
“It gives you a sense of control, the
ability to manage your own condition,”
he says. “It’s sometimes tough to have
the self-discipline to do these things on
your own, so it’s helpful when you have
to be accountable to someone else.”
Tim Kutash, manager at Crowfoot
Physio, says the GLA:D program
gets results. “It’s rewarding to see the
progress people can make over the eight
weeks. It really makes a difference.”
AHS piloted the program in 2017
through its Bone and Joint Health
Strategic Clinical Network. Other
partners include Bone and Joint Canada,
the Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation,
the Alberta Bone and Joint Health
Institute and the Arthritis Society.
To learn more about GLA:D, or to
find the location nearest you where it’s
offered, visit ahs.ca/glad.
Gaining control over chronic conditions
WRITTEN BY GREG HARRIS
LIVING WELL WITH
common form of arthritis.
hands and fingers, shoulders and
feet are the most commonly
stage of osteoarthritis, exercise
is a scientifically supported
treatment to improve your health
osteoarthritis, losing five per
cent of your total body weight
has also been shown to improve
decrease joint discomfort and
improve functional abilities.