Local Parks and Recreation Identified as Critical Ally for Arthritis Intervention Programs

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National Recreation and Park Association will engage park and recreation agencies in evidence-based walking and exercise programs this year.

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“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."

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 strikes 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 this program include:

  •     South Suburban Parks and Recreation, CO
  •     City of Colorado Springs, CO
  •     Hyland Hills Park & Recreation District, CO
  •     Norwich Recreation Department, CT
  •     Orange County Park and Recreation, FL
  •     City of St. Petersburg, Office on Aging, Health and Elder Resource, FL
  •     City of Davenport Parks & Recreation, IA
  •     New Lenox Community Park District, IL
  •     Munster Parks & Recreation, IN
  •     New Bedford Parks Recreation & Beaches, MA
  •     Durham Parks and Recreation, NC
  •     Lincoln Parks & Recreation, NE
  •     Neptune Parks & Recreation, NJ
  •     Las Vegas Parks, Recreation & Neighborhood Services, NV
  •     Bowling Green Parks & Recreation, OH
  •     Westerville Parks & Recreation Department, OH
  •     Worthington Parks & Recreation, OH
  •     Oklahoma City Parks & Recreation, OK
  •     City of Memphis Parks & Recreation, TN
  •     McAllen Parks & Recreation, TX
  •     Fairfax County Department of Neighborhood and Community Services, VA
  •     Seattle Parks & Recreation, WA
  •     Madison School & Community Recreation, WI
  •     Greater Huntington Park & Recreation District, WV

The Arthritis Foundation and NRPA hope to reach at least 2,000 people with arthritis throughout the first year of this partnership and to reach thousands more as each selected community extends the reach of the programs within their communities.

For more information visit: http://www.nrpa.org/Grants-and-Partners/Recreation-and-Health/Arthritis-Interventions/
The National Recreation and Park Association is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to advancing park, recreation and conservation efforts that enhance quality of life for all people. Through its network of 30,000 recreation and park professionals and citizens, NRPA encourages the promotion of healthy lifestyles, recreation initiatives, and conservation of natural and cultural resources. For more information, visit http://www.NRPA.org. For digital access to NRPA’s flagship publication, Parks & Recreation, visit http://www.parksandrecreation.org.

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