Exercising programs helps seniors stroll through arthritis pain

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Air quality alerts Friday and Saturday forced many New Mexicans to work out indoors. But that’s not stopping a group of seniors suffering from arthritis from getting their steps in.

Twice a week, seniors in Bernalillo County meet at the Raymond G. Chavez Community Center to stretch together and go on a nice long stroll.

“Basically it’s a program designed to improve fitness and health and get people exercising and work through arthritis pain and other kinds of ailments that they might have,” said George Shcroeder manager of Bern Co. Senior Services.

The program is called “Walk With Ease,” and it’s part of a partnership between the Health Equity Council and Bernalillo County.

“Helps people start from wherever they are in their fitness level and improve their fitness through walking,” said Shcroeder.

Just 30 minutes, that’s all it takes.

“People feel like it hurts to move, but in fact, movement reduces the impact of arthritis on your life. This program helps people understand arthritis pain and how to move through it and how to work with it, and how to try to still maintain health and fitness despite that ailment,” Shcroeder said.

“We’ve had some health issues dealing with arthritis, fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis. Yeah, so it seems be helping,” said Melinda Marquez, Walk With Ease participant. “So it’s not like I can run a marathon right now. But every time I come, it gets easier and easier.”

And this program keeps them accountable.

“It’s good for you. You know, mentally physically. It helps you out, even when there’s days that you’re like, ‘I just don’t feel like doing this.’ You try to talk yourself out of it. And once you come on through here and you push through it,” said Marquez.

“There are lasting impacts. I think people gain self-confidence. They make friends that they can continue to meet outside of the class and set up their own walking group,” said Shcroeder.

And that’s what one of the things they love the most, the friendships they’ve built.

“It’s a diverse group and a variety of age groups. And so we have a good time, and before you know it, you’re just walking and talking and the time goes by,” Marquez said.

There’s also an option for you to take part in this program at home. The county will send you a book with all the information you need and you can log your steps while walking around your neighborhood.

If you’d like to learn more, visit Walk With Ease’s website.