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Home arrow COMMUNITY arrow Walking With Ease


Walking With Ease

Wallowa County’s OSU Extension Office offers course, developedby Arthritis Foundation, which can reduce pain and improve health 

ENTERPRISE — Walking with ease just got easier through a class offered by Oregon State University.

Wallowa County’s OSU Extension Office is offering its first six-week course to help people looking to incorporate walking into their lifestyle.

Debi Schreiber, OSU 4-H extension agent, said the program developed by the Arthritis Foundation is to encourage people to walk and provide health education.

“It is an exercise program that can reduce pain and improve overall health,” Schreiber said, “and is open to people of all abilities.”

Ann Bloom, extension nutritionist, is leading the class with help from Schreiber. Both women are certified instructors.

The first class began Oct. 14 and meets three times a week — Monday, Wednesday and Friday — from 11 a.m. to noon at the Wallowa County Fairgrounds’ Cloverleaf Hall.

The first class is closed to new participants, Bloom said, but she said she thinks the extension office will offer more in the future.

Each class begins with check-in questions and concerns, homework discussion, warm-up walk with stretching, and weather permitting, an out-and-about walk, followed by a cool down. Between classes, a chapter of “Walk With Ease” is assigned.

Bloom said the course is funded through OSU and the Arthritis Foundation, but each participant pays $20 and receives the “Walk with Ease” book and a water bottle.

Every county in the state is being encouraged to offer the course during the five-year grant period, of which there are two years left. Bloom said she took the training to facilitate the course in September and is now leading 11 people in what she calls the pilot program.

“Throughout the year we plan to get one going in Joseph and possibly Wallowa,” Bloom said.

She said the course is very scripted and she must follow it closely including short, information sessions followed by exercise. In a class held Monday, participants discussed proper clothing and most importantly, having
good shoes that fit well and are comfortable.

She said neither she nor the class members can physically help each other, according to the class manual. “It may do more damage than good,” Bloom said.

So why does one need a course to go for a walk?

Bloom said, “There’s a lot more to it than a bunch of people getting out and going for a walk.” 

Research shows that people are more apt to stick to a walking regime in a group due to an injury or boredom, “especially if they have not been properly instructed.”

Walking 30 minutes a day is recommended, but doesn’t have to be all at one time. Bloom said two 15- or three 10-minute walks are just as beneficial. “People walk as far or long as they want.”

A large indoor space like the Wallowa County Fairgrounds’ Cloverleaf Hall helps in inclement weather. But the good weather the past couple weeks has helped get people outside.

Class members are encouraged to meet outside of class and have a walking buddy. “Sharing and socializing is a big part of it,” Bloom said.

Having arthritis is not a requirement of class attendance, just a desire to be physically active and to improve health, Bloom said.

Bloom said she teaches nutrition in the schools, but like a lot of people, finds reasons not to exercise. “Exercise is the second part of nutrition, so I need to walk the walk. Normally I wouldn’t make time on my own, but this motivates me to get out.”

Carolyn Dawson said she joined the class because she has arthritis. “Medication made me ill so my doctor said to get into a program and do something. I like the class’s information; you think you know it all and find out you don’t.”

She said she has a stationary bike, but likes the class because she lives on a rural road and walking in town works better for her. Wilma, her Yorkie-poo, is her walking companion and she has taken well to leash walks. “She lets me know when she is tired,” Dawson said.

Nora Stangel said she likes the class. “It gets me in the habit of walking and it forces me to do the cool-down.”

Janet Sims said she doesn’t have arthritis, but walking helps with aches and pains from injuries.

Juanita Waters said the class has gotten her back into walking. “I used to walk for a mile and got away from it. This forces me to do it.”

Mike Koloski said he needs the exercise and being able to walk inside is a plus. “It’s the only space available besides Safeway.”

Bloom said she and Schreiber are looking for volunteers to lead the different walking groups the extension office hopes to start. For information, call 541-426-3143. 


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