A Woodburn couple is gleaning from their own experience to help locals walk with ease.

Bob and Linda Harris are leading the Walk With Ease class at Country Meadows Village starting next week, which is funded by the Arthritis LINDSAY KEEFER - Linda and Bob Harris will lead 'Walk With Ease,' an Arthritis Foundation class, at Country Meadows Village starting Oct. 16.

Orientation for the class will be Oct. 16 at 1 p.m. in the activities room of the three-story building at Country Meadows Village, 155 S. Evergreen Road. Classes will be held at the same time Mondays and Wednesdays for nine weeks starting Oct. 21. The class is free.

“It’s not just a walking club,” Bob Harris said. “Every session has a topic of discussion and information. Then we walk for about a half hour. It’s not a walking club, but it could evolve into one.”

While the class targets those who suffer from arthritis, it’s open to anyone, young or old.

“It’s good prevention and good, gentle exercise,” he continued.

“It protects the joints and helps you stay active, but it’s targeted for people with arthritis.”

Linda Robinson, activities director at Country Meadows who has been an instructor with the Arthritis Foundation before, said the class uses the safest methods possible.

“Exercise actually improves arthritis and can be as effective as medication,” she pointed out.

“It can reduce or even replace medication.”

The class will divide into two levels of pace: Linda Harris will lead those who need mobile aids and prefer a slower pace, and Bob Harris will lead those who prefer a quicker pace.

“We’ll modify it based on how much time we have and the needs of the students,” Bob Harris said.

While both Bob and Linda Harris have had their own bouts with physical ailments — Bob has had two hip replacements, so the arthritis classes help him cope with joint pain — their draw to teaching the class comes from Linda Harris’ mother, who is now a resident at Country Meadows.

“My mother-in-law was a recluse of sorts (when she moved to Country Meadows) and felt uncomfortable doing activities,” Bob Harris said. “She was more comfortable when I got involved.”

He has since also volunteered to drive the Country Meadows bus on field trips.

“I like giving back to the community,” he added about why he volunteered to teach this class.

Linda Harris, who found out about Walk With Ease from her job as a certified health educator, said that motivating others is what motivates her.

“It’s inspiring to watch Mom and the other residents here striving every day to find new ways to do things,” she said. “As with education, I enjoy inspiring people and being inspired. I’ve never walked away from a class not having felt changed.”

In addition to being certified to instruct the course, Bob Harris has experience working as a medic and as a health and safety consultant.

Although classes geared toward helping those with arthritis have been provided around Woodburn, such as at Woodburn Health Center and the Woodburn Aquatic Center, this is the city’s first Walk With East program, which was created in 2009.

When people sign up for the class, they receive a free book and a free water bottle, courtesy of Oregon State University Extension Service, which sponsors the program.

For more information, call Country Meadows Village at 503-982-2221.

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