Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Walk Your Way to Better Health: Free classes help relieve arthritis pain

(Salt Lake City) – Data from the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) show that roughly 47 percent of Utah adults with arthritis limit their activities because of high levels of pain in their joints. With one in five Utah adults suffering from some type of arthritis, the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) is encouraging the public to enroll in free wellness classes near them to better manage their arthritis pain and other chronic health conditions that limit their activities.

“Health care providers no longer tell people with arthritis to rest their joints as a way to manage their arthritis pain,” said Nichole Shepard, manager of the UDOH Arthritis Program. “Current research shows that physical activity relieves pain, fatigue, and stiffness from arthritis. Walking for just 30 minutes a day, five times a week, can make a huge difference in how your joints feel.”

Nearly 60 percent of Utahns with arthritis said their health care provider told them to exercise to relieve their pain, yet only 3 percent reported attending a self-management class to learn how to deal with their arthritis.

Veteran James Dracoulis recently completed a six week walking program called Walk With Ease at the VA Salt Lake City Health Care System. “This program finally helped me break the motivational barrier I had with exercising and walking. The more I walk, the less pain I feel. It has increased my endurance and helped me to overcome my pain physically as well as mentally,” said Dracoulis. The program is offered as a self-guided or group course and has been shown to reduce the pain and discomfort of arthritis while increasing balance, strength, and overall health among arthritis sufferers. “Walk With Ease really means to walk with ease!”

Walk With Ease is just one of many evidence-based classes offered across the state to help relieve arthritis pain and teach participants how to manage their chronic health conditions. Classes are taught at local health departments, senior centers, clinics, hospitals, senior housing facilities, public libraries, and other community centers. Participants learn self-management techniques and skills needed in the day-to-day management of their ongoing health conditions. Research shows that the classes are also effective for caregivers.

“Exercise really is the best arthritis pain reliever,” said Shepard. “Start slow with a morning or evening walk around your neighborhood with friends, a spouse, or even your dog. Suggest walking meetings with co-workers or walk around inside your office building when the weather is bad. Reaping the benefits of regular physical activity doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated.” 

To find a wellness class near you, visit http://livingwell.utah.gov/ or call the Utah Health Resource Line at 1-888-222-2542. The Arthritis Foundation also has information on arthritis education and physical activity classes, like Walk With Ease, on their website at http://www.arthritis.org/utah or by calling 801-713-5722.

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Media Contact:
Rebecca Castleton