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Arthritis Foundation offering Walk with Ease program

The Arthritis Foundation is offering Walk With Ease, a structured walking program that teaches participants how to safely make physical activity part of their everyday life. The six-week group series led by a certified leader, will start Jan. 14 at the West Acres Mall, Fargo, and the Veterans Memorial Arena, West Fargo, and on Jan. 15 at the Moorhead Center Mall. The program is designed to help people living with arthritis better manage their pain and is also ideal for people without arthritis who want to make walking a daily habit by incorporating support, information and tools to help develop successful exercise routines.

During the program, participants will learn proper stretching and pain management techniques, as well as build stamina and walking pace. The program can even be modified to meet the needs of individual participants so that each person can develop an exercise routine that fits their unique goals.

"Research shows that walking is not only good for joints, but also helps improve the health of the heart, lungs and bones," said Kelly Brekke of the Arthritis Foundation Upper Midwest Region.

"Walking can also help manage weight which can reduce one's risk for arthritis in the knee, heart disease and diabetes. If you can be on your feet for 10 minutes without increased pain, you will most likely have success with Walk With Ease."

The information and strategies taught in the Arthritis Foundation Walk With Ease Program are based on research and tested programs in exercise science, behavior change and arthritis management. Updated and evaluated by the Thurston Arthritis Research Center and the Institute on Aging of the University of North Carolina, Walk With Ease is shown to increase balance, strength and walking pace, as well as reduce the pain and discomfort of arthritis. The program is also shown to build participant confidence to be physically active and improve overall health.

Dennis Inglis of West Fargo took part in the first session last fall and is a firm believer in the beneficial aspects and proof that the program truly does work, ultimately improving his overall health and physical ability.

Inglis, who suffers from arthritis in his hips and back was supported by his wife, Peggy, in the process. "My wife decided to sign me up. She knows that I've been hurting, especially in the wintertime it bothers me more."

"I've had the pain for quite sometime, and as they told me it really doesn't get better but I found out I could do things to help make it feel better."

He noted that at the start of the Walk with Ease session he "really noticed a lot of improvement."

The sessions began with a talk about different types of arthritis, Inglis said, followed by some stretching and then walking for 45 minutes to an hour. "When I first started walking I couldn't walk the whole time I had to stop at least two times to stretch out my back and hip and then start walking again. By the end of six weeks I didn't have to stop at all. My back and hips became a lot looser and I didn't have any pain afterwards which said something in itself."

Long after the program has been over, Inglis said he tries to continue the walking at the Veterans Arena whenever he can but has been a little more lax lately because of the holidays.

Nonetheless, he's noticed "that there is still quite a bit of difference in the pain and stiffness. The idea after the program was to keep walking so you could maintain. Hey, if this working for you why not keep doing it?"

As the only guy attending the program along with five other women, Inglis said he would encourage others to participate. "The instructor was very good. And if you are hurting this might do you some real good, I know it did for me. I walked my pace which is what the program supported. This was not a contest but what it could do for you personally and it really worked."

For those planning to attend the Walk with Ease program, pre-registration is necessary. For more information, contact Kelly Brekke at 701-388-1988. Before starting any exercise program, always check with your physician.