Local Parks Identified as Allies in Arthritis Prevention
With their ability to reach and serve thousands of people, local parks and recreation have been identified as essential partners to help contribute to the prevention and management of arthritis, which affects 50 million Americans. The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) and the Arthritis Foundation, with support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have partnered to provide the Walk With Ease Program and Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program in 24 communities across the country thanks to a $140,000 grant.
Local parks and recreation have long been centers of health and wellness in their communities, and these grants will help bring new low-impact exercise programs to residents. The walking and exercise programs through the Arthritis Foundation have been scientifically proven to help reduce pain and stiffness often associated with arthritis. Studies by the Thurston Arthritis Research Center and the Institute on Aging of the University of North Carolina have found that Walk With Ease was shown to reduce pain, increase balance and strength and improve overall health. By partnering together, the NRPA and Arthritis Foundation aim to reach more people living with arthritis and help improve their quality of life through these trusted and measurable programs.
The programs provided by the park and recreation agencies will be offered three times per week for six weeks by Arthritis-Foundation-certified and -trained instructors. The classes are ideally suited for anyone that is interested in preventing or managing arthritis, but also for those looking for a regular, low-impact exercise program in their local community.
"The Arthritis Foundation and their proven interventions recognize the role accessible exercise and wellness have on improving overall health outcomes in our country," said Barbara Tulipane, president and CEO of NRPA. "Public parks and recreation facilities promote healthy lifestyles and serve their entire community regardless of age, income level or social background. This makes them perfect locations for programs that address arthritis, a health issue that also knows no social boundary."
"Arthritis is a debilitating disease that impacts the lives of millions of people in the U.S., but physical activity can help with pain and stiffness," said Arthritis Foundation Chief Mission Officer, Jennifer Griffiths, Ph.D. "Through our partnership with NRPA, more people will have access to the Arthritis Foundation Walk With Ease Program and Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program. Not only are these programs gentle on joints, but they have been proven to reduce arthritis pain."
Through the grant funding, the 24 selected communities will be trained and certified to offer either the Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program or the Walk With Ease classes. Communities funded in the first year of the program include: Norwich Recreation Department, Conn.; South Suburban Parks and Recreation, Colo.; City of Colorado Springs, Colo.; Hyland Hills Park & Recreation District, Colo.; Orange County Park and Recreation, Fla.; City of St. Petersburg Office on Aging, Health and Elder Resources, Fla.; City of Davenport Parks & Recreation, Iowa; New Lenox Community Park District, Ill.; City of Memphis Parks & Recreation, Tenn.; McAllen Parks & Recreation, Texas; Fairfax County Department of Neighborhood and Community Services, Va.; Munster Parks & Recreation, Ind.; New Bedford Parks Recreation & Beaches, Mass.; Durham Parks and Recreation, N.C.; Lincoln Parks & Recreation, Neb.; Las Vegas Parks, Recreation & Neighborhood Services, Nev.; Neptune Parks & Recreation, N.J.; Bowling Green Parks & Recreation, Ohio; Westerville Parks & Recreation Department, Ohio; Worthington Parks & Recreation, Ohio; Oklahoma City Parks & Recreation, Okla.; Seattle Parks & Recreation, Wash.; Madison School & Community Recreation, Wis.; Greater Huntington Park & Recreation District, W.Va.