(Salt Lake City) How would you like to be free of arthritis pain in just 4 to 6 weeks?” According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is possible by doing a little walking on your own most days of the week or by participating in one of the programs proven to help arthritis in Utah.
“It’s amazing how many ways walking helps,” says Christine Weiss, spokesperson for the Utah Arthritis Program. “Walking relieves back and joint pain by improving blood flow and strengthening muscles. It also lowers blood pressure, heart attack and stroke risk, and strengthens bone to reduce the risk of osteoporosis,” she added.
The problem is, a recent report from the CDC found that 50% of Utahns with arthritis get no physical activity during a given week. Rebecca Castleton, UDOH Arthritis Program Coordinator, says, “This report is concerning because people with arthritis who don’t move much are at far greater risk for being injured and even disabled.”
In fact, arthritis is the leading cause of disability in Utah and the nation. The disease is accompanied by severe joint pain, limited mobility, and often, depression. But the good news is even a small amount of physical activity is proven as the best way to manage the disease. Moderate physical activity like walking reduces pain, improves function, and delays disability.
The CDC recommends low-impact activities like walking, dancing, biking, swimming, and water aerobics. Experts say adults should aim for 150 minutes per week, or 30 minutes per day, five days a week. If 30 minutes seems overwhelming, breaking it up into two or three, 10- to 15- minute sessions throughout the day works wonders for many people.
“You can start by walking around your neighborhood or gardening for 10 minutes in the morning,” says Lisa Fall, President and Chief Mission Officer, Arthritis Foundation. “In the afternoon you could try 10 minutes of dancing or house cleaning and in the evening walk again with a friend.”
And if you don’t like walking alone, you can have company by joining the proven pain relief program Walk With Ease. The Utah Department of Health (UDOH) and its partners offer the program throughout the state and say most people who stick with this and other physical activities feel and move better in just 4 to 6 weeks.
Edma Garcia is walking proof that Walk With Ease works. She started the program because chronic ankle pain made it difficult to make the short walk from the parking lot to her office every day. “But the stretching, warm-up exercises, and group walks made a big difference,” says Garcia. “By the end of the program my ankle pain was pretty much gone.” Now, Edma even goes for long walks on weekends.
To find a Walk With Ease Program in your area, or to learn more about local efforts to address arthritis, visit www.health.utah.gov/
arthritis or call 801-538-9458. Or contact the Arthritis Foundation at 1-800-444-4993 or http:// www.arthritis.org/chapters/ utah/.