Last fall an intrepid team of half a dozen Town of the Blue Mountain community members dawned their running shoes and gathered at the local community centre with the intention of increasing their physical activity through walking.
Fast forward five months later. The numbers of T.B.M walker’s have increased to over fifty participants! On average every Monday and Thursday mornings between 9:30 and 11:00 a.m. a minimum of 30 participant’s gather to complete their laps. Many increase their number of laps from the previous week. “Every person is encouraged to sign in and track his or her successes”, says Eileen Gamble who is the chief volunteer organizer.
The Walking Club is supported by PLAY in Bruce Grey (an initiative promoting physical activity in Grey and Bruce) and the Town of the Blue Mountains. The Township of Meaford recently started a similar club and now has over twenty-five persons walking twice a week as well!
GetFitNow.ca say’s, “There’s no doubt about it, walking is good for you. It’s good for your heart, it’s good for your lungs, and it’s good for muscle and bone growth. Walking is good for your overall health and wellness.
Studies show that walking can:
- Reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke
- Lower blood pressure
- Reduce high cholesterol and improve blood lipid profile
- Reduce body fat
- Enhance mental well being
- Increase bone density, helping to prevent osteoporosis
- Reduce the risk of non insulin dependant diabetes
- Help to control body weight
- Help osteoarthritis
- Help flexibility and co-ordination, reducing the risk of falls
Walking is a healthy, accessible, enjoyable and safe activity for everyone. Whether you want to walk to improve your general health, to keep fit, or to control your weight, walking can help.
“Walking is the nearest activity to perfect exercise.” (Professor J Morris and Dr Adrianne Hardman, 1997) Just 30 minutes of brisk walking every day can help prevent heart disease, assist. in weight loss and improve your overall mental well-being.”
“The program is very straight forward to start and keep going”, says PLAY in Bruce Grey’s Cathy Smart. “Community Centres and arenas exist in every community in Bruce and Grey and sit empty for much of the week. This is an excellent opportunity for community members to take advantage of a warm and safe facility. Once set up, the program runs independently with support of volunteers like Irene Gamble. The walkers are committed to the program and to each other. That is the key ingredient to its current success. The walkers look forward to meeting one another every Monday and Thursday morning. As far as the TBM group is concerned this program will never end!!”
Town of Blue Mountains Councilor Bob Gamble is a huge supporter and active participant of this program. When asked what is great about this initiative Bob says “It gets people out in the middle of winter to exercise safely. The program provides an opportunity to make new friends and also encourages friendly competition!! Bob manages to complete between 90 -100 laps on a regular basis. That is close to 8,000 steps, which is just under the daily amount recommended by ParticipACTION.
Many walkers are not confident and do not feel safe walking outside – especially during the winter months. So, having the opportunity to walk inside with a group of like-minded people twice a week is fantastic! Many of the participants are noticing that their stamina is increasing. One woman said that she was only able to manage a couple of laps when she first came out and now she is up to thirty! This is such good news. A program that is accessible to many in the community; does not cost the town or the participant’s a cent and is naturally increasing participant’s level of fitness and fellowship!!
Evelyn and Marj both agree. They say that the reason they keep coming out is due to “the nice dry surface; the companionship; safety; meeting the newcomers and it is fun!!”
Ben uses a cane and Ron users a walker. They say that this walking program has increased their self-confidence. Ben says that he increases his laps every time he comes!
One of the more senior walkers is 91 years old. She chooses to walk back and forth instead of walking in circles. She loves the program!
“We really care about one another,” says Eileen Gamble. “We notice when a person has not attended over a period of time and provide each other support when needed. Everyone enjoys chatting and getting to know one another. It is a very happy place to be!”
The benefits are numerous! The enthusiasm is infectious and the level of commitment is high! For more information about the Town of the Blue Mountains or the Meaford Walking Groups or to start a program in your community please contact the firstname.lastname@example.org.