On the morning of July 17, a group of senior citizens could be spotted walking through Azalea Park.
The frontrunners of the group walked at a semi-brisk pace, while others, some aided by canes, strolled behind at a more leisurely pace. However, for the participants of the community-based Walk with Ease” program looking to improve their health, speed was negligible.
“It’s designed to get people out to walk no matter what (their) level is,” said Walk with Ease instructor Glenda Groff, 77. “We usually have two to three people with canes who walk very slowly. When we started the program, we went various places like Harris Beach and Crissey Field, and we often started from the Chetco Activity Center, but then you have to walk in traffic, and if you change your places, people don’t know where to find your group if you’re out for a while.
“We have settled in the last two or three years to this route that we’re walking right now, so if people can go back they can come and find us.”
Typically, participants in the program, which meets Monday, Wednesday and Fridays at 10:30 a.m., walk three to four laps around Azalea Park. Although several people are often able to walk only a short distance when they start, they gradually improve their walking ability and stamina over the course of the program.
Newcomer Eve Corey, 71, said she decided to join the program upon learning about it at the Chetco Activity Center.
“I checked out the program, and thought, ‘Yeah, I like to walk,’ so that’s not a problem,” said Corey, who also spent her time walking dogs at the South Coast Humane Society.
According to Groff, the program is sponsored by Oregon State University Extension, the Arthritis Foundation and the Chetco Activity Center. Thanks to the sponsorships, participants receive a free guidebook that instructs them how to pace themselves on their own time, or as Groff puts it, “how to walk to be helpful without being hurtful.”
Brookings is one of several cities across the nation partaking in the “Walk with Ease” program, started by the Arthritis Foundation, whose goal is to help citizens reduce the pain they experience from arthritis, improve their overall health and gain confidence to be more physically active.
Groff notes the morning program is being continued indefinitely. In the past, they have attempted afternoon programs, but experienced little luck due to the weather being too hot in the summer and the sun coming down too early in the winter.
In addition to the benefits provided by walking, Groff explained that doing so as a group keeps several people returning.
“For a lot of us, we need to be motivated to get out and walk, and if you have a set time and place, and other people are expecting you, it’s a high motivator,” Groff said. “If you walk by yourself, you might say, ‘Oh I think I’ll sleep in, I don’t feel like it today,’ but if I know there’s going to be six other people saying, ‘Where’s Glenda?’ I’m going to get down here.”
For more information on the Walk with Ease program, contact the Chetco Activity Center at 541-469-6822 and ask for Glenda Groff or Scott Clapson.