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Walk with Ease Promotes Healthy Living

Participants in the Arthritis Foundation's Walk with Ease (AFWWE) program at PCC take time out from class for a group photo. Pictured are, left to right: Sheila Jernigan, AFWWE Instructor Kim Barber, Sheila Dixon, Beverly Edwards, Jennifer Dudley, Ava Cratch and Natasha Collins.

WINTERVILLE—As an official wellness partner of the Arthritis Foundation Mid-Atlantic Region, Pitt Community College recently launched the Arthritis Foundation Walk with Ease (AFWWE) program to teach individuals how to safely make physical activity a part of their daily lives.

Kim Barber, agency contact person for Walk with Ease at PCC, said the college began offering the program this fall to help people living with arthritis better manage their pain. AFWWE, she said, is also ideal for those who do not have arthritis but want to make walking a daily habit.

“Research shows that walking is not only good for joints but also helps improve the health of the heart, lungs and bones,” Barber said. “Walking can also help manage weight, which can reduce one’s risk for arthritis in the knee, heart disease and diabetes.”

Barber added, “If you can be on your feet for 10 minutes without increased pain, you will most likely have success with Walk with Ease.”

AFWWE is a structured program that offers support, information and tools to help participants develop successful exercise routines. Individuals can choose to take part in the program on their own—through use of a workbook—or can join others in a six-week group series under the supervision of a certified leader.

Through the program, participants learn proper stretching and pain management techniques, build stamina and develop walking pace. Barber says the program can even be modified to meet the needs of individual participants so that each person can develop an exercise routine that fits his or her unique goals.

“The AFWWE program recommends that you work up to walking at least three times per week,” she said. “The idea is to start at a reasonable pace for you and build up to 30 minutes or more of walking each of the days you walk.”

A typical class, according to Barber, begins with a discussion on topics ranging from arthritis to exercise to walking safely and comfortably. After motivational strategies, group sharing and a warm-up exercise, she said students walk for 10-30 minutes before taking part in cool-down exercises and closing remarks.

The class meets once a week for about an hour, Barber said, adding that students also walk on their own at least two additional days per week.

Though Barber says Pitt’s Walk with Ease program is open to all students, faculty and staff, seven of the 17 individuals currently enrolled in the class are gerontology students from the Human Services Technology program who are working toward certification as AFWWE leaders. She noted that the certification process also includes an online training component, CPR/First Aid certification, and leading a six-week AFWWE class.

“Our Walk with Ease program offers students, faculty and staff the opportunity to improve their health and at the same time helps our gerontology students earn a valuable credential,” Barber said.

The current AFWWE class ends Nov. 12. Since it is structured to correspond with PCC’s gerontology course on Health, Wellness and Nutrition, the next class will be offered in October 2013. Though there is presently no enrollment fee for the course, Barber said participants must still pay $5 for an AFWWE Handbook.

For more details on Walk with Ease, contact Barber at (252) 493-7418.


11/12/12