University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences physical therapy students seek to help patients manage arthritis pain through guided “Walk With Ease” online classes.

Physical Therapy students at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) Northwest Regional Campus are offering Walk With Ease classes at no cost to participants. The classes are all virtual via weekly Zoom meetings with certified group leaders.

Walk With Ease, which was developed by the Arthritis Foundation, is a structured walking program that teaches participants how to safely make physical activity part of their everyday life. Designed to help people living with arthritis better manage their pain, it also is ideal for people without arthritis who 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,” says John Jefferson, PhD, faculty co-advisor of the program and founding director of the UAMS Doctor of Physical Therapy program. “Walking can also help manage weight, which can reduce one’s risk for arthritis in the knee, heart disease, and diabetes. If you can be on your feet for 10 minutes without increased pain, you will most likely have success with Walk With Ease.”

Related: Wish to Manage Osteoarthritis Pain? Try a Hybrid Sleep-Exercise Approach

The program allows individuals to work on their own, at their own pace, to increase their physical activity. The enhanced aspect of the program allows participants access to their Walk With Ease certified group leaders and group members through weekly Zoom meetings. Group leaders will also be actively involved through weekly emails that contain educational material and encouragement to maximize the six-week journey.

“Participants will learn proper stretching and pain management techniques, as well as build stamina and walking pace,” says Christopher Walter, DPT, PhD, assistant professor and faculty co-advisor of the Walk With Ease program. “The program can be modified to meet the needs of individuals so each person can develop an exercise routine that fits their goals.”

The UAMS Northwest Regional Campus includes 329 medical, pharmacy, nursing, and health professions students; 66 medical and pharmacy residents; and two sports medicine fellows. The campus has nine clinics including a student-led clinic; orthopedics and sports medicine; and physical, occupational, and speech therapy. Faculty conduct research to reduce health disparities.