For about six years, Betsy Isaacs left her home only about once a week. Weighing in at 357 pounds, the Sugar Grove, N.C., woman only went to the grocery store and when she did she had to ride in a wheelchair or an electric cart.

 “I had fatigue so bad. I had body pains, especially in my legs, hips and lower back. It hurt so bad when I tried to walk,” says Isaacs, 50. “The more weight I gained, the less I was able to do.”

Mentally, Isaacs said she was depressed because she couldn’t work in her garden or walk to her mailbox or even bend down to put on her shoes. She finally decided to go to the doctor for all her pain and came home with a shocking triple diagnosis: diabetes, fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis in her hips and knees.

“I was really upset, especially about the diabetes,” says Isaacs. “My grandparents had diabetes and I didn’t want to go through what they went through with insulin and all that.”

Movement as Medicine

Instead, Isaacs’ doctor started her on medication and gave her one big prescription: movement. “She said that I needed to walk a little bit – even if it was just in the house or on the porch or down the driveway.”

Isaacs’ doctor told her about a wellness center about 20 miles away where there was an Arthritis Foundation Walk with Ease Program. Isaacs enrolled in the program and started walking with a group several times a week around an indoor track.

“I felt I was going to be out of place because I was so big, but they accepted me for who I was and not for what I looked like,” says Isaacs.

In the beginning, she could often only go one lap around the track, but at then end of the six-week program, she walked one mile – a full 18 laps.

“I found out the more I walked, the better I started to feel,” she says.