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Walk this way

by Larry S. Chowning

Improving one’s quality of life can actually come from a simple walk around the block. 

Walking is a feel-good exercise that improves health and, for many, helps improve attitudes on life. Area walkers use the parks and sidewalks of local towns and communities for their daily walks. Some people walk on their own, while others enjoy walking in groups.

Group walking has become very popular. The Middlesex YMCA sponsors a Walker’s Club in the spring and summer and the club currently has 10 members who are getting in shape to walk/run in the March 28 Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10K in Richmond.

Mary Davis (left) and Lisa Walker are part of the Middlesex YMCA Team In Training program that will walk in the Ukrop’s 10K on March 28 in Richmond. The YMCA is sponsoring 10 participants from Middlesex in the event. The Y also has a separate walking group that is active in the spring and summer.

Middlesex YMCA executive director Buzz Lambert has spearheaded the program and members are training each Saturday at the YMCA in Hartfield and at Taber Park in Urbanna. During the week, walkers are responsible to work out on their own. 

“They can either run/walk on their own or meet at the YMCA and work out on treadmills or do whatever,” said Lambert. “If they are not members, during this 10-week process they get to utilize the Y to assure they are meeting their schedule.

“What we do when we meet is start out with warmups and light stretching,” he said.  “After that, they form their pods and some people go two miles and others go five miles. It’s a good group. It’s a wonderful way to stay in shape and meet some great people.”

The group follows a 10-week training program that is designed exclusively for walkers who want to get in shape for a 10K walk/run. The program also publishes literature on walking that is helpful to all walkers.

“Walking is about health,” said Lambert. “The Ukrop’s 10K Training Team Program is designed first to promote good health practices. It’s a very popular program. They had an early entry fee due January 21 and 23,000 people had already signed up.”

During the training process, participants can go to clinics on using proper walking shoes, nutrition, health and wellness, how to stay injury free, and what to expect on event day.

Middlesex YMCA executive director Buzz Lambert directs stretching exercises for a YMCA-sponsored walking group at Taber Park in Urbanna.

Mary Davis and Lisa Walker are walking together in the 10K. In addition to walking and training for the event, Walker walks three to four times a week around Urbanna with another friend. Part of her morning walk involves walking her dog. “My dog gets real upset if she doesn’t get to go,” said Walker.

“Mary and I have participated in the Ukrop’s 10K for four or five years now, and it’s a great event,” she said. “It gives us something to work toward and helps me set goals for myself. I really enjoy walking with someone. I think if you have somebody to meet, you have to go.”

Davis lives near Christchurch and walks by herself most of the time. “I’m a hit-or-miss walker,” she said.  “I should walk every day. I do it to get exercise and it makes me feel good, even though the couch looks mighty good,” she joked.

Millie Hampton of Warner, a grandmother who walks, said what she likes about walking is that it is an exercise that everyone can do at his or her own pace. She likes walking in a group because people can break apart and walk along with those who are at their level.

“I just started this training on January 17, but I have walked off and on for quite a few years,” she said. “I’ll get on a good walking spree, and then I’ll get lazy and quit.”

Hampton was encouraged to walk the 10K by her doctors. “I had gone to see my doctor at the VA Hospital in Richmond and he was giving me a little bit of news I didn’t want to hear,” she said. “I asked him if it would be all right for me to participate in the 10K walk. He said it was a great idea and said if I’d sign up, he’d walk with me.

“I’ve got health issues coming up and I don’t want them to get any worse,” continued Hampton. “It’s helping me lose weight. I’ve already lost 10 pounds and its helping
to put me where I want to be health-wise.

“I walk because it makes me feel better and it makes me feel better about myself,” she said. “Walking is an easy way to improve one’s quality of life and stay healthy.”
Tom Hardin of Stormont had suffered from lower back pain for years. He went to the doctor, who took x-rays and told him he had calcium deposits on the spine. “What do I do?” Hardin asked the doctor.

“Walk two miles a day and take Advil when the pain is bad,” responded the doctor. “Walking is the best thing you can do for your back.”

According to AARP, numerous doctors agree that walking has a plethora of health benefits, such as increased “brain power” that helps one think more clearly, make better decisions, solve problems, and have more concentration.

Ask any doctor and he will tell you walking is an important part of any weight management or weight loss plan, and will help one sleep better, wake up energized and be ready for the day.

Walking can simply lead to a long, healthy, vibrant life—even as people age, says AARP. Walking reduces the risk of many diseases and helps control existing conditions.

The West Point YMCA also has a 10-member team entered in the Ukrop’s 10K, and in April the Middlesex YMCA will restart its weekly walking group.

“We urge anyone who wants to walk and be a part of a walking group to come and join us,” said Lambert.

posted 02.26.2009

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