Brooklyn Park program helps take ache out of arthritis
Visit any community center or health club, and you're bound to find seniors getting in their daily dose of exercise. You'll probably also find an instructor guiding the class, but this particular class happening three days a week in Brooklyn Park is unique.

"Well, we have participants that are coming in that can only walk a couple minutes," said Kristie Walker, a fitness instructor.

Walker says everyone of the participants in her class suffers from some form of arthritis.

"Well, what happens with mine is I get a really sharp pain on the left side of my knee," said Margaret Marsh of Maple Grove. "And it feels like it's going to go out."

Marsh is one of the people who signed up for 'Walking with Ease.' Three times a week, she and the rest of the group meet to discuss a health education topic, then they do a variety stretches, followed by a 20-minute walk outside.

"A hard part is when we have arthritis, there is pain often involved, but that doesn't necessarily mean harm," Walker said. "We're always listening to our bodies, telling our participants take a break at any time. Listen to your body."

The important thing is to keep exercising, even if you have arthritis.

"It doesn't matter what culture or what age, you want to keep walking," said Pat Busch, the program supervisor of Brooklyn Park's park and recreation department.

Busch says 'Walk with Ease' is an evidence-based class made possible by a grant from the National Arthritis Foundation.

"We know that some of the class participants wouldn't be walking if we didn't have this for them," she said.

Brooklyn Park is one of 40 cities across the U.S. to receive this grant. They're three weeks into the six week class, and so far, the results have been positive.

"It's definitely gotten me motivated," Marsh said. "I like the exercises they've taught. I know they're the right ones, and so I feel like it's been very helpful."

Going forward, the hope is that these participants won't let arthritis get in the way of staying fit.

"I'm hoping that it will keep me walking throughout the summer," Marsh said.

The Walk with Ease class has a few more weeks to go. The next session begins June 12 and goes through July 20. It's open to anyone, regardless of whether you live in Brooklyn Park.

For more information you can check out the city's website.

Delane Cleveland

May 9, 2017


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