WALK WITH EASEBy Susan Kujawa
Walk With Ease
Walking has long been one of the best forms of exercise. But as we age, we can become more limited, and walking may eventually become the only way we can flex our muscles, speed up our heart rate, and deepen our breathing. Sometimes, walking itself can become too much of a chore as our capacity changes from being able to walk several miles a day, to just one mile, to a trip around the block. Eventually, we may stop walking altogether.
Walk With Ease is a research-based program to help people develop a walking routine, either from scratch or to reinvigerate what they are already doing. The Arthritis Foundation developed the program, but it is not limited to just those who have arthritis. Participants can start off at any level and increase their walking distance (or time) over a span of six-weeks.
In November 2022, Priyanka Kumar, the Membership Services and Volunteer Coordinator at Pasadena Village, took a leadership role in making Walk With Ease available to the Pasadena community. The program was offered at no cost to participants due to the generosity of the Navigage Foundation, Pasadena Community Foundation, and other donors. Under her guidance, the program has just completed its first six-week session.
Priyanka initiated the program by providing a copy of the Walk With Ease workbook to each participating member. The workbook stresses a basic five-step pattern: warming up, gently stretching, walking at “normal” speed, cooling down, and gently stretching again. The book also contains forms that the walker can use to track progress.
Once each week, a group of about ten walkers, including Villagers and others from the Pasadena community, met in Pasadena's Michillinda Park. Following the workbook's guidelines, Priyanka began each session by talking a bit about a portion of the workbook's content. Then she led a warm-up stroll followed some simple stretches. The next step was to walk at “normal” speed as each participant walked at her own pace for a given amount of time monitored by Priyanka. The session then shifted to a short cool-down walk ending with another set of simple stretches.
The park provided a pleasant environment not only to exercise but also to chat with other participants. As an extra attraction, four or five of the area's famous peacocks displayed their beautiful plumage while making sure they stayed out of the way.
Occasionally, a session included a “special event”. At one session, participant Suzi Hoge brought photos and samples of an array of some 40 devices intended to help older folks with such activities as opening jars, holding pens, turning keys, etc. At another session, Meg Maryan of Home Instead Pasadena (one of Pasadena Village’s generous supporters) brought a balance scale intended to predict the likelihood that a person will experience falls. She demonstrated its use, then the participants got to try it and receive their rating. See here for more information on the balance scale.
During these sessions, Priyanka's leadership skills shone. Her warmth and enthusiasm were contagious. Participants made new friends and found that walking and talking are good ways to get exercise and feel better about the day!
Priyanka will offer another six-week Walk With Ease program beginning in late January. This time, the sessions will be held at Lacy Park in San Marino. Learn more here.
So come and join the Walk With Ease group to rediscover the benefits of walking. Can't commit to six sessions? Come when you can. You think you will walk too slowly? Impossible! Whether you are a Village member or not, the group will be delighted to see you there.