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Health Department

Posted on: June 6, 2018

Is Arthritis Keeping You From Living the Life You Want?

Walk with Ease Program Graduates-PR photo

Walk with Ease Program Graduates-PR photo

Pictured, recent graduates of the Walk With Ease program held at the Northwest Arena in Jamestown give a thumbs up for the program.


MAYVILLE, N.Y.: -- June means warmer weather and increased outdoor physical activity - the perfect time to get active to prevent arthritis and to manage existing pain, fatigue and stiffness associated with it.


“A common misconception is that arthritis is an inevitable part of aging,” said Lisa Schmidtfrerick-Miller, Healthy Communities Consultant for the Chautauqua County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). “That doesn’t have to be the case. Arthritis is more common among older adults, but working-age adults are also afflicted. Arthritis is an extremely costly condition that can cause severe pain, disrupt normal activities, and affect the type and amount of work that can be done, leading to lost earnings.”


Low-impact “joint friendly” physical activity (meaning that there is low risk of injury and little stress on joints) is a proven strategy for managing arthritis symptoms in adults, and research has shown that physical activity can reduce pain and improve physical function by about 40 percent. Regular, moderate physical activity, like walking, biking, and swimming, that gets your heart rate up and keeps it up for at least 30 minutes a day on five days a week can delay the onset of arthritis and help relieve pain, fatigue, stiffness, and other symptoms. If 30 minutes at one time is too much, try 10 minutes at a time, three times a day. 


Sometimes increased pain, fear of pain, and lack of knowledge of safe forms of physical activity may make it more difficult for people with arthritis to be active. To decrease this fear and teach people with arthritis the necessary skills to safely and comfortably be active, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a group of arthritis-appropriate evidence-based physical activity and self-management education programs like Walk With Ease, EnhanceFitness, Fit & Strong, and Active Living Every Day.  These programs have proven to improve physical mobility and balance; reduce the risk of falling; increase socialization; reduce fatigue, anxiety and depression; and help establish support groups with other adults with arthritis.


“We are pleased to support a local Walk With Ease program to help adults with arthritis get active and feel better,” said Christine Schuyler, Director of Chautauqua County DHHS. “Most people who stick with a program of regular physical activity begin to feel better within four to six weeks.  It’s not easy, especially when your joints hurt or you haven’t been active for a while, but the sooner you start, the sooner you will feel better.” 


Walk With Ease is a six-week walking program designed to help individuals with arthritis or other chronic conditions to move more and feel better. Classes are offered at no charge in various locations around Chautauqua County. For more information on upcoming classes, contact the Chautauqua County DHHS at (716) 753-4795.


Arthritis is a leading cause of disability and the most prevalent chronic disease in New York State. Arthritis currently affects 1 in 4 American adults and the same holds true for Chautauqua County as 24 percent of adults here were diagnosed with arthritis in 2013-14. Nearly half of people with arthritis are limited in everyday activities such as walking, bending, or lifting a grocery bag. About half of people with heart disease and diabetes report having arthritis, making it more difficult for them to manage these conditions. Arthritis is also more prevalent in rural communities where nearly one in three adults report having arthritis. Adults with arthritis are twice as likely to fall and suffer from fall-related injuries. For more information on arthritis, visit https://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/.


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