Allison Phillips. (ISU photo)

Iowans who aren’t physically active who want to change course and start moving might consider a program called Walk With Ease, headquartered at Iowa State University.

Alison Phillips, an ISU psychology professor, says the six-week self-directed program offers strategies to build stamina, manage pain, and to develop a safe stride to limit injuries.

“It’s a walking program designed for anyone who is new to exercise,” Phillips says. “It was originally developed for people who have arthritis but it’s been expanded to be really for anyone who would benefit from walking — which is pretty much everyone.” Walking is a great way to increase physical activity and improve well-being she says, but it can be painful and difficult for some Iowans, especially those who have been sedentary for a long time or have a chronic health-related condition.

That’s where Walk With Ease can help. Phillips says, “It includes six weeks of content to help people gain confidence in their ability to be physically active, to learn how to walk pain free and even tips for staying active in the winter.” Another important component, the program also includes weekly one-on-one online sessions with student health coaches.

To those who are already physically active, walking may not sound like a big deal, but Phillips assures, it’s a powerful tool. “The research behind walking is that it has all of the benefits of other types of physical activity and sometimes even more, depending on what you’re talking about,” Phillips says. “It has mental health benefits, physical health benefits. It can give you more energy, reduce pain, improve mood. It even improves sleep.”

While the program is available to anyone, ISU researchers are looking to work closely with Iowans who meet certain criteria. “You are able to stand for 10 minutes without increasing pain,” Phillips says. “You have to have approval from a physician, and we would help you get that, and you have to be 60 years of age or older.”

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