Walking is a natural pain reliever for most people suffering from arthritis. A recent study released by the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) concluded that walking, specifically the Arthritis Foundation Walk With Ease program is an effective course in decreasing disability and improving arthritis symptoms.
The in-depth study looked at the effectiveness of the WalkWith Ease program, designed to help participants living with arthritis better manage their pain. Key findings in the study include reduced pain and discomfort of arthritis, increased balance, strength and walking pace, as well as an improvement in overall functioning. In addition, the program gives people with arthritis and other chronic diseases a new way to think about physical activity.
“The study showed that the exercise program is suitable for every fitness level, even inactive older individuals,” said author of the study Leigh Callahan, Ph.D., Thurston Arthritis Research Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “Many people believe the myth that exercise exacerbates their symptoms. The truth revealed in the study is that symptoms improved with exercise.”
As the nation’s most common cause of disability, arthritis affects more than 46 million Americans. With the aging of baby boomers, the prevalence of arthritis is expected to increase by 40 percent, affecting 67 million Americans, in the next two decades.
Research shows that walking is not only good for joints but also helps to improve the health of the heart, lungs, and bones. In addition, walking can also help manage weight and delay or prevent the onset of arthritis in the knee.
“Physical activity can actually reduce pain naturally and decrease dependence on pain medications,” explains Patience White, M.D., chief public health officer of the Arthritis Foundation. “Even minor lifestyle changes like taking a 10-minute walk three times a day can reduce the impact of arthritis on a person’s daily activities and help to prevent developing more painful arthritis.”
Another way individuals can commit to walking for a healthier lifestyle is through the Arthritis Walk, the Arthritis Foundation’s annual nationwide event that raises funds to fight arthritis. For many, the Arthritis Walk is their first step in taking control of their arthritis.
Because exercise, especially walking, is a particularly effective tool in managing arthritis, the Arthritis Walk is a fun way to move together to fight arthritis and raise funds to help find a cure. To find an Arthritis Walk in your city, visit http://lmt.arthritis.org/.
About the Study
The objective of the study was to evaluate the effect of a revised six-week Walking With Ease program for people with arthritis in exercise science, behavior change and arthritis management. A total of 462 individuals participated in either a group format led by a trained instructor or they walked individually. The group participants met three times a week for one hour, and the self-directed participants were given a workbook and worked at their own pace. The group participants had a mean age of 71, 85 percent were female, 27 percent were African American, and 35 percent had a high school degree or less. The self-directed participants had a mean age of 64 years, 90 percent were female, 26 percent were African American, and 22 percent had a high school degree or less.
About the Walk With Ease Program
The Walk With Ease program is a structured program offering support, information, and tools to help integrate walking into a daily routine. The program can be completed individually or as part of a group. The Walk With Ease Workbook and group classes, teach individuals how to manage arthritis pain, cope with challenges to being physically active and give support for those affected by arthritis.
The Arthritis Foundation is the leading health organization addressing the needs of some 46 million Americans living with arthritis, the nation’s most common cause of disability. Founded in 1948, with headquarters in Atlanta, the Arthritis Foundation has multiple service points located throughout the country.
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