Success Story: “If you feel good, just do it!”

Photo“It was time to take care of me.”  These words, spoken by Sherri Hayes, 52, of Kansas City, Missouri – North, ring true for many participants of self-management programs.  Hayes acted as a caregiver for her parents and in-laws who were aging and had chronic health conditions for a number of years.  When she was no longer acting in that role, she realized that she needed to put herself first for a change.  She reached out to her employer and asked if within their office they could host a program that her organization, the Arthritis Foundation Heartland Region, has long promoted to others.  It all “kind of fell into place; it was just the time to do it,” said Hayes. 

Hayes has participated in the Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program at the Arthritis Foundation Greater Kansas City office in Prairie Village, KS since 2011.  The program is led by Kansas City Area Regional Arthritis Center coordinator, Orvie Prewitt.  The same core group of 8 “regulars”, ranging from age 52 to 89 (turns 90 in September!), has continued attending this program over the past three years.  The benefit to having an ongoing group of regulars is the camaraderie that has been formed.  The participants all hold one another accountable and Hayes says that she misses them when she doesn’t get to see them when the class breaks for holidays. 


Picture1Hayes' Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program group at a dinner in November 2012.  Front Row (L-R): Paddy Lorenz, Connie Cooper, Mo Van Winkle, Evelyn, Taylor Jenkins (AF office), Peggy Rhoades.  Back Row (L-R): Sherri Hayes, Instructor Orvie Prewitt, Betsy Rapine.


The Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program is a group format course offered by trained leaders in six-week increments, meeting two to three times per week.  Some sites, like the program Hayes participates in, 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.

While Hayes does not personally identify any chronic health conditions impacting her life, she has noticed an improvement in her overall health.  Hayes stated the Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program has “helped keep me on track with my weight loss” over the past 3 years and she feels the class has contributed to a weight loss of nearly 80 pounds.  She overall feels better with less pain in her knees and feet.  Additionally, her health care provider has noted an improvement in her blood pressure readings. 

Individuals who are obese and/or physically inactive are at increased risk for arthritis.  According to the 2011 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), 38.8% of Missouri adults who were identified as obese also had arthritis.  Over half of all Missouri adults with arthritis had been told by their doctor to exercise for their arthritis (BRFSS, 2011).

Hayes said new faces are welcome for the class at the Arthritis Foundation Office at 1900 West 75th Street, Suite 200, Prairie Village, Kansas 66208.  To find out more information or to register, please call Sherri Hayes at 913-262-2233.  To find out more information about other self-management programs offered in the Kansas City area, contact KC Area Regional Arthritis Center coordinator Orvie Prewitt at 816-932-2351.  If you are interested in participating in an Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program elsewhere in the state, you can find a class near you by calling toll-free at 1-888-702-8818 or visiting .  As Hayes says, “If you’re thinking about doing it, just do it.  Put yourself first for a change!”

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