When Russell Otte, 65, of Edina, Missouri (Knox County) registered for his first physical activity course, he was fearful that he would not succeed with the program. Being the only man in his class didn’t help this fear. However, the instructor of his Walk With Ease class encouraged everyone to walk at their own pace, to realize it wasn’t a competition, and to encourage one another. As Otte says, “We cheered one another on.” When considering taking a self-management or physical activity course, many people have similar fears.
Otte pushed through his initial fears and continued taking the Walk With Ease course. He stated that “the class isn’t about keeping up with the crowd – it’s about keeping up with yourself.” He realized that others in the class had similar problems to his. Otte has arthritis, diabetes, Meniere’s disease, and suffered a stroke in 2009. The stroke in particular limited his mobility and range-of-motion on the right side of his body. In describing his improvements made through taking the Walk With Ease course, Otte said, “The first day I only walked 5 minutes, but by the end of 6 weeks, I was able to walk 45 minutes with more ease than the 5 minutes had been at the start. After the 45 minute walk, I felt energized and ready to meet the day, instead of exhausted and overwhelmed with pain.” Since Otte felt he had improved so much in this program, he chose to also enroll in the Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program.
The Walk With Ease Program is a group or individual format course. The group format is offered by a trained leader in six-week increments, meeting three times per week. This class, which was researched and designed by the Arthritis Foundation to be joint-friendly, includes warm-up, stretching, and cool-down exercises. It teaches participants to learn how to safely pace themselves and how to monitor their progress while building up to walking at least 30 minutes at a time. The individual format course is done independently, but follows the same structure as a group course.
The Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program (AFEP) is a group format course offered by trained leaders in six-week increments, meeting two to three times per week. Some sites choose to offer the program year round to participants with long-term health conditions (like asthma, arthritis, diabetes, and heart disease) or individuals just looking for a regular exercise routine. This class, which was researched and designed to be joint-friendly, includes activities to improve range-of-motion, flexibility, balance, strength and to build endurance. All of the exercises can be modified to meet participants’ needs.
Through his participation in the Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program, Otte was inspired to become trained as a leader, a move his doctor supports. “My doctor was really pleased. He sees that my life has improved, and tells me to keep on doing the activities.” Otte especially wants to encourage more men to participate in similar programs. He will be starting a new Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program course this fall in September at the Community Center in Edina.
To find out more information, please call the Northeast Regional Arthritis Center at 1-866-626-2878 x2049. You can also find out more information about other self-management and physical activity programs being offered in the Northeast Missouri region. If you are interested in participating in a Walk With Ease or an Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program course elsewhere in the state, you can find a class near you by calling toll-free at 1-888-702-8818 or by visiting www.moarthritis.org/classes.html.
Otte especially encourages you to “find a program and experience it”!