December 01st, 2023

walk with ease bookROBERT PIERCE
• Leader & Times


People of all ages, sexes and races can and do have arthritis, and it is the leading cause of disability in America.

More than 50 million adults and 300,000 children have some type of arthritis. It is more common among women and occurs more frequently as people get older.

The Arthritis Foundation’s six-week Walk With Ease program can teach people how to safely make physical activity part of everyday life.

The Liberal Senior Center (LSC), in conjunction with the Liberal Parks and Recreation Department, is now bringing Walk With Ease to Seward County.

The program will start June 12 and will run Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday starting at 9 a.m. at Light Park near the Randall Girl Scout Building.

LSC Director Darlene Ford said each session will take about an hour depending on participants’ pace and what activity is taking place.

“It may be a little longer,” she said. “It may be a little bit less. It’s going to be relaxing. The key here with this program is ‘at your own pace.’”

Ford said she met with officials from the Rec Department, and both sides thought it would be a fun summertime activity to use a park such as Light Park and have individuals with similar conditions. 

Ford added that by allowing people to work at their own pace, they will not have to worry about things like walking or moving faster than other participants or stretching as far as others.

“We thought we would group together,” she said. “That’s what the fun part of it is for us. It may be some people who are associated with the senior center in some way. We’ll meet people that came to the Rec Department that thought it would be fun to get out and do it. We thought that we could make it a community event this way.”

Ford said the Walk With Ease course is a one-time venture, but she hopes people will take the initial information they are given and feel comfortable with the tools they are given as well such as guidebook.

“They’ll be able to continue to go back to it and see what else they could be doing,” she said. “We forget things. You go back and ‘Oh yeah, I forgot that I could do this stretch before I did that.’ Just making life easier. It’s not just for people with arthritis. It’s good for all of us.”

Ford emphasized Walk With Ease is not just for those with arthritis, but it can become a common sense habit for those who take part. She said officials with both the Rec Department and the senior center can direct participants to other resources for more information.

“We can call local phone numbers,” she said. “They can get us in contact with folks. It’s the Arthritis Foundation, and there’s an 800 number. Visit the Arthritis Foundation Web site at www.arthritis.org, or call 1-800-283-7800 to find your nearest Arthritis Foundation office and for access to a wealth of information about living well with arthritis and related conditions.”

Ford said Walk With Ease is beneficial for anyone of any age.

“Maybe in your late 20s, and you notice that you’re muscle tone is changing,” she said. You’re thinking, ‘Wow that really shouldn’t be doing that.’ Trying to get involved in something that will stop the progress and help it to get back to where it was or for you to feel comfortable where it’s at. This will give you the opportunity to say, ‘This is the right way to do it. I’m need to make sure that I’m stretching before I do it. I need to give some relax time in between days. I don’t want to exercise my body five days in a row because it’s not good for it.’”

While Ford said much of Walk With Ease revolves around common sense, she said that term can mean different things to different age groups.

“If we can take any age group and we move it to a person that’s in their 50s and they’re saying, ‘Wow I really notice when I bend my knees. It’s starting to hurt now. What can I do?’” she said. “There are ways that we can strengthen those knee muscles and try and keep what we’ve got and help it to not get any worse if that’s the situation. There’s all kinds of pieces of good information that we’ll be sharing with each other that we can help with each other on.”