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Manage Arthritis with the Walk With Ease Program

Friday, 05 03, 2013

Beth Fisher or Gwenda Bond,(502) 564-6786, ext. 3101 or 3100

May is National Arthritis Month

As part of National Arthritis Month, the Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) and the Kentucky Department for Aging and Independent Living (DAIL) are encouraging Kentuckians to take part in the Walk With Ease Program.

Walk With Ease is a walking program to reduce pain, discomfort and improve the quality of life for people with arthritis and other chronic diseases.

Research has consistently shown that walking for exercise improves arthritis pain, fatigue, strength, balance and quality of life. Yet, according to a report released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 70 percent of Kentuckians with arthritis walk less than the recommended 90 minutes a week and 55 percent do not walk at all.

“National Arthritis Month gives us an opportunity to recognize the high prevalence of arthritis in Kentucky and encourage more people suffering from arthritis to participate in Walk With Ease,” said Dr. Stephanie Mayfield, DPH commissioner. “Physical activity relieves arthritis pain, and this program provides the necessary resources and support individual’s need to get started and continue to consistently manage the disease.”

Walk With Ease is a guided program developed by the Arthritis Foundation that assists participants in developing successful walking routines and helps them stay motivated to continue walking. The program emphasizes support, information and tools to help individuals meet their physical activity goals and is specifically designed for people with arthritis and other chronic conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.

“We are very excited about being able to offer the Walk With Ease program to Kentuckians free of charge,” said Deborah Anderson, DAIL commissioner. “Arthritis is extremely common in Kentucky, where one in three adults is affected by the disease. Still, many don’t realize the impact of arthritis can be lessened with regular physical activity.”

According to DPH and CDC, the majority of arthritis sufferers in Kentucky are people between the ages of 18 and 64, or “working adults.” Over half of this population reports being limited in the amount or kind of work they can do.

“We want to help people lead active, pain free lives,” said Jennye Grider, coordinator for the DPH arthritis program. “When you have arthritis, the idea of exercise can be very intimidating. Walk With Ease teaches you to go at your own pace, to exercise safely, and to reach out for support and information when you need it. It’s a great way to safely integrate physical activity into your life and start feeling better.”

Walk With Ease is being offered to Kentucky Employee Health Plan members and to other Kentuckians at no cost thanks to a grant from the CDC. Online registration is available at www.chfs.ky.gov/wwe or by contacting Grider at Kentucky.Arthritis@ky.gov or (502) 564-7996, ext. 4433.

After registering, participants receive a book in the mail to guide them through the process of starting and maintaining a customized walking program. Program participants praise Walk With Ease for being user friendly and offering flexibility.

“One of the things I like about the program is that it asks you to ‘start where you are.’ If you can walk for half an hour every day, that is wonderful - but if you need to start with five or 10 minutes a day, that is fine also,” said Teri Wood, an epidemiologist with DPH and Walk With Ease participant. “For a person trying to become active while managing pain, it is so important to know that you can make real improvement at your own pace. This program helps me do that.”

In addition to individuals with arthritis, anyone looking for a way to improve their health by being more physically active can benefit from this free program and is encouraged to participate. Walking and other forms of cardiovascular activity are encouraged as part of an overall healthy lifestyle to improve fitness and reduce risk of chronic disease.

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The Cabinet for Health and Family Services is home to most of the state's human services and health care programs, including Medicaid, the Department for Community Based Services and the Department for Public Health. CHFS is one of the largest agencies in state government, with nearly 8,000 full and part-time employees throughout the Commonwealth focused on improving the lives and health of Kentuckians.