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Walking program is a ‘game changer’ for Nevada residents

Twenty-five Nevada-area residents are moving better today thanks to a program made possible in Nevada because of the new Nevada Field House.

If you sign up for the next program, you too could be taking steps on Nevada’s indoor Field House track toward a healthier future.

Mike Brown and Ros Dunblazier are the Walk With Ease program leaders in Nevada. The two work together to help participants find their “Goldilocks Zone.”

Walk With Ease, a program of the National Arthritis Foundation®, is proven to reduce arthritis pain and improve overall health. The program is now offered in Nevada through the Nevada Parks and Recreation Department under the guidance of local program leaders Mike Brown and Ros Dunblazier.

Brown, who has competed nationally in fitness/strength competitions, is in his 60s and loves being part of something that helps others. Dunblazier, a local retiree who walks 10 miles daily, loves that she was also asked to help lead the program.

“She’s the one who’s the motivator because of the amount she walks,” Brown said of Dunblazier. “It’s inspirational for these people.”

Dunblazier, now in her 70s, said she’s been walking since the ‘70s, but she upped her distance a few years back. “It’s about endorphins,” she said. “Walking makes me feel good; it starts my day correctly. I feel more positive.”

Walk With Ease is completing its first six-week session in Nevada. The program has been offered in Ames in recent years, brought there through Iowa State University’s Kinesiology Department. When those heading up the program in Ames saw that Nevada would have an indoor track, they reached out to Rhonda Maier, assistant director of Nevada Parks and Recreation, to see if the program could be offered in Nevada. Maier was quick to see this as a great opportunity for Nevada residents.

Brown said most program participants are in their 60s and 70s, and most are utilizing the program because they have an arthritis condition or because they want to prevent arthritis. Brown noted it’s more common than many of us may think for people to retire and move less.

“This (the Walk With Ease program) all goes back to my expertise in functional fitness. Walking is as functional as you can get. You don’t want to be in the position where you can no longer walk,” he said.

Through Walk With Ease, Brown and Dunblazier help participants find their “Goldilocks Zone,” as Brown calls it. “This is finding the ‘just right’ amount of movement you need for the benefit of it, without overdoing it,” he said.

Dunblazier loves helping others realize the joy of walking and being part of a group walking together. “The participants have grown to care about each other. When someone doesn’t show up, the others want to know that they’re O.K.,” she said.

Retired Nevada school teacher Rick Bartosh has participated in the first session of Walk With Ease, which many of the participants say they saw announced in the community magazine, Our Nevada.

“I love the humor that these two (Brown and Dunblazier) bring. If you start off laughing, it’s a whole lot easier to get moving,” Bartosh said.

Bartosh lives near the Field House and watched from his deck as the facility was being built. Now, he’s thankful to be able to utilize it. “I love this place,” he said.

Brown said the Field House is key to hosting the Walk With Ease program, as it provides a safe, level walking surface and a space for instruction. Each session starts with a brief educational talk, followed by stretches, taking heart rates, walking, and then taking heart rates again.

“We teach participants how to take their heart rates the old-fashioned way,” Dunblazier said, and keeping track of this data is really more for their benefit, though they can also share it with researchers at Iowa State, who do like to interview the participants as part of their studies.

Brown said the program started with just 5 minutes of walking at the first session, and a few struggled with that. “Now, we’re up to 25 minutes, and we don’t see any struggles,” he said. “Most people walk the entire time, but we encourage them not to overdo it.”

“The Field House has chairs in every corner along the track,” Dunblazier said, “so they can rest if needed.”

The cost of the program comes out to about $2 a session, Brown said, and for those who want to buy it, there is also a Walk With Ease book or online book participants can purchase.

This book can be purchased by participants and utilized as a resource.

Bartosh said he purchased the book and likes to use it to review what he’s learned during the sessions and as a resource for reviewing the exercises he’s been shown in class.

Maier couldn’t be happier with how the first session has gone or how her leaders are working together. She recently received a letter from Barb, one of the program participants who was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis 15 years ago.

Barb writes: “This is the first exercise class… that I’ve taken to relieve RA inflammation. Curiosity of the new Nevada Field House was also a factor in registering…WWE instructors Mike and Ros brought a wealth of fitness knowledge that goes beyond the provided classroom materials. Their combined knowledge, real-life experiences and stories added a personal touch to the learning experience. Mike’s and Ros’s concern for participants was obvious… Water intake was encouraged, participants were asked if they knew what their inflammation ‘trigger foods’ were, and questions were answered on a recently purchased FitBit… Most of the 25 participants were from the local Nevada area. I was surprised at how many people I already knew and blessed by those I got to meet…In my opinion, the Nevada Parks and Rec WWE class taught by Mike and Ros provided physical as well as social benefits. The instructors encouraged participants to think about making lifestyle changes, not just teaching a ‘learn to walk’ program.”

The second session of Walk With Ease will take place from April 8 to May 22. The program will meet three mornings (M-W-F) a week from 9-10 a.m. at the Field House. Registration deadline with Parks and Rec is April 1 or as soon as the program is filled. Please call Nevada Parks and Recreation at 515-382-4352 if you want to register, or have questions.

For more information about the Walk With Ease Program, go to:

–Written by Marlys Barker, City of Nevada

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