Running with arthritis: Joints in Motion

by Paul LeBel

mother and daughter team who recently competed in Disney's World Marathon in Florida are casting doubt on the notion that exercise is bad for arthritis. Saskatchewan's Ruth Stevenson and her mother Marie Lloyd are members of The Arthritis Society's national Joints in Motion (JIM) Training Team.

Joints In Motion is a marathon-training program designed to help people meet their goal of completing a world-class marathon -- while also helping to find a cure for arthritis. Since its inception last year, the program has raised over $1 million.

The Arthritis Society provides JIM Training Team members with a trainer, transportation, accommodation, marathon entry and all fundraising materials. The runner trains and raises a set amount of money for The Arthritis Society, in honour of someone with arthritis - an "Arthritis Hero." Funds raised through JIM support The Arthritis Society's research and education programs.

Will I be able to get back up?

"I once went on a school picnic with my own daughter and worried for days before. Would I be able to get down onto the picnic blanket or back up again?" says Stevenson. "Training for JIM has greatly enhanced my quality of life, so that I no longer have that level of anxiety about simple things. I will continue this exercise program long after marathon day."

Lloyd, 63, and Stevenson, 43, trained and fundraised together every step of the way to the finish line. Stevenson has been living with psoriatic arthritis since she was 19. Lloyd was diagnosed with osteoarthritis at about age 60.

Dispelling common misconceptions

Their story helps to dispel two of the common misconceptions about arthritis. It is not just a disease of the elderly, as Stevenson learned harshly at age 19. And despite a once popular belief that exercise was not recommended for people with arthritis, today specially designed programs are known to help in many cases.

Stevenson has volunteered with The Arthritis Society in Saskatchewan since 1992. She understands the fear, frustration and challenges facing people with arthritis and enjoys sharing her positive attitude.

"I am very lucky to be feeling as well as I do," Stevenson says. "Arthritis is a chronic illness that never goes away, so I don't know what tomorrow holds. Joints in Motion is a great way for me to make a difference right now."

The Joints In Motion Training Team will participate in the Suzuki Rock 'n' Roll Marathon in San Diego in June 2001 and the Lausanne, Switzerland Marathon in October 2001. If you would like to become a team member and join in the fight against arthritis please call The Arthritis Society at 1-800-321- 1433.


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