Participants in the recent Walk With Ease program at the Milwaukie Center began their session with some light stretching.
Using walls, walkers and chairs as aids, the class then headed out the door for a 20- to 25-minute group walk around North Clackamas Park.
"I won't walk alone," said program participant Robert Wiesner. "But I need to workout. Walking with people helped me commit."
Joan Carnegie loves to walk in the park and sees her walker as more of a tool than a deterrent, saying, "When I get tired, I just find a shady spot and sit down on it and read for a little while. Then I pop right back up."
Walk With Ease is a free 18-session program developed by the Arthritis Foundation for arthritis prevention and relief. For the past six years, the Milwaukie Center has partnered with the Oregon State University Extension Service's Family and Community Health program in Clackamas County.
Some people would not be motivated to exercise unless they were in a class, according to instructor Abby Kennedy with the North Clackamas Parks & Recreation District.
"Many people have met new friends, so it provides companionship, socialization and getting out of the house," Kennedy said.
After the walk, program participants headed back to the Milwaukie Center for more stretching to prevent injuries. Once a week they can enjoy sampling new recipes as part of the class's nutrition component. They are always excited to try new ingredients and meal ideas, according to Elena Illescas, nutrition educator with the OSU Extension Service in Clackamas County.
"I try to bring food that is easy to make for one or two because most of these people are older and they live alone," Illescas said. "Sometimes they don't have the motivation to cook for themselves."
All the recipes come from FoodHero.org, an OSU social marketing campaign that develops and shares healthy, easy to make, low-cost recipes.
"It gives you a lot of variety, a lot of healthy ideas," said program participant Crystal James. "I have tried just about all of them, and I've liked all of them."
The Walk With Ease program was specifically developed for adults with arthritis who want to be more physically active, but it is also appropriate for people without arthritis, particularly those with diabetes, heart disease and other chronic conditions, who want to move more. The only prerequisite is the ability to be on your feet for at least 10 minutes without increased pain.
To find a Walk With Ease class or to sign up for a self-guided program visit extension.oregonstate.edu/walk-ease. Watch a video of the program in action at youtu.be/VEmr1X9d1zg.
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