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Missy Frank, a physical therapy assistant for Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital and certified arthritis class instructor, lead the National Arthritis Foundation Exercise program of 13 students. “We see people generally improving their walk, their strength, they are being more social,” said Frank. “Overall, I think in better health.”

The Marcus Daly Rehabilitation National Arthritis Foundation exercise program is benefitting elderly in the community. Students, mostly octogenarians, learned about purchasing the correct shoes for their type of foot and did their therapeutic exercises on Thursday.

There are two classes taught at MDMH: Walk with Ease and the National Arthritis Foundation Exercise program. Both classes are supported by studies and students are tested at the beginning, their minutes of exercise are charted and their results tracked.

The National Arthritis Foundation Exercise program has multiple components – exercises for legs, arms and core, balance, endurance and relaxation for people with a high amount of pain.

The project coordinator is Amanda Weinberger and Missy Frank, a physical therapy assistant for Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital and certified arthritis class instructor, lead the class of 13 students.

“They report they feel better, are able to go up stairs better, are able to walk better,” said Frank. “Students also report improved pain and energy. Studies time and time again show that exercise – walking and strengthening - keeps your bones strong, keeps your health and heart stronger. It increases your overall health. People have already reported better balance and getting stronger.

“We are a casual class – people are working at different levels sitting for the exercises if they want to. It’s based on how they feel – it is an arthritis class. We teach them to pay attention to their pain. Another goal is to get people doing exercises on their own at home.”

The class results are very successful.

“We have people that come in initially that can only walk one lap and now we have a student who is walking from his house to here, doing this class – all the exercises, and walking home. We see people generally improving their walk, their strength, they are being more social. Overall, I think in better health.”

There is also a health component taught at every class. The class has learned about strengthening their core and bladder control from Deisiree Dutton, MPT; osteoporosis from Anne Weinberger, APNP; and flexibility from Pete Dunn ORT/L, DPT.

On Thursday, physical therapist Scott Raveling shared his expertise about foot bones, muscles and the best shoes to help with comfort and performance.

“If your feet aren’t happy the rest of your body isn’t going to be happy,” said Raveling. “You can purchase the most expensive shoes but if they don’t fit your foot they are not worth a dime. [Shoes] should fit and feel good from the first moment you try them on there should be no breaking in period.”

Raveling covered the bones and muscles of the foot, the parts of a shoe and how to buy them to fit and how to support arches, ankles, bunions and nerves based on need. He also provided diagrams on lacing techniques based on arthritis, bunions, neuroma, heel slippage and comfort.

“Changing the way you lace your shoes can make all the difference in the world,” said Raveling.

Class member Shirley Duce, 80, said the class has been perfect for her.

“I’ve been so impressed with what exercise has done for me,” said Duce. “I can actually go up stars now one at a time – instead of like a baby. Amanda and Missy are marvelous. I have not been in pain and I did not have surgery. I’m glad these educational classes are offered to the community. Marcus Daly focuses on education and I hope the classes continue. There are so many things the elderly need to know about. You end up elderly and you didn’t even know you were getting there.”

Student Dick Strong walks to the class and back.

“I’ve been taking these classes for a long time,” said Strong. “They have been an incentive for me to get off my butt and do something. The classes are helpful. I can walk all the way over to the house and not have to sit down.”

Class member Dick Olson said he enjoys the class and getting healthy.

“I’m getting more movement in my neck,” he said. “I’ve had 18 surgeries and I needed something to help. I couldn’t move this foot at all, but it’s improving because of the class. It’s a positive thing.”