May is National Arthritis Awareness Month, and officials from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment are hoping to help those suffering from arthritis get that “spring” back in their step.
According to Ariel Capes of the KDHE Bureau of Health Promotion, physical activity helps decrease the pain caused by arthritis, improves mobility and helps those suffering from chronic pain manage the symptoms of arthritis such as loss of mobility, loss of energy and depression.
Capes advised increasing physical activity to walking 30 minutes three times a week. She said not to worry if walking 30 minutes is too much at first, and advised doing as much as you can “even if it’s just 5 minutes at a time,” working up to 30 minutes, if possible.
“You have to start small, but the sooner you get started, the sooner you will feel better,” Capes said.
The KDHE has collaborated with state and local organizations in Hays to help those suffering from arthritis begin physical activity goals.
Capes suggested three options — all of which are free:
1. Walk with Ease program: A six -week walking program to encourage people with arthritis to start walking and stay motivated. Participants can enroll in the program individually as a “self-guided” participant or as a group. All participants receive a free guidebook, pedometer and supportive materials. For more information, call (785-296) 1627 or visit the Walk With Ease website.
2. Hays Recreation Commission Gym Daily Walkers program: Capes said participants in this program register with the HRC and keep track of mileage walked. Participants who walk one mile in a calender year, receive a free T-shirt and HRC staff provides support and advice along the way. For more information, call (785)623-2650 or visit the Hays Recreation Commission website.
3. Chronic Disease Self Management Workshop: This free six-week workshop “helps all those suffering from Arthritis or any type of chronic illness such as migraines or diabetes,” Capes said. According to Capes, the program helps participants deal with chronic pain by discussing nutrition, exercises and offers anopportunity to learn from others dealing with similar symptoms. The workshop is held at the Center for Health Improvement through June 10. Contact Stephanie Shaffer-Howie at (785)623-6340 for more information.