According to statistics from the website Healthy Maine Walks www.healthmainewalks.com/connection.php :
v The percentage of overweight young people has almost doubled in the last twenty years for children aged 6-11 years and almost tripled for adolescents aged 12-19 years.
v In overweight children, risks for heart disease and stroke such as diabetes, high blood pressure, etc., have been shown in children as young as five years old.
v Nearly half (46%) of Maine’s adults have a sedentary lifestyle which means that they are not getting enough physical activity to enjoy health benefits.
v Thirty-eight percent (38%) of Maine high school students do not participate in vigorous physical activity three or more days in the past week.
v Sixty (60%) of Maine adults are overweight or obese – almost one quarter (23%) of all Maine adults are obese.
v Eleven percent (11%) of Maine high school students are overweight, and fourteen percent (14%) are at risk for becoming overweight.
This is our collective human challenge. What can we do about it? The fact is, any community can bring more of an awareness to the need for physical activity by starting a walking club and either creating new trails or utilizing existing ones. We have become so motorized, so sedentary, and so technologically entranced with gadgets, we have forgotten we have feet and what they are used for! It is time to dust them off, warm up our winter muscles and see how we can shed some excess pounds and enjoy ourselves in the outside air at the same time.
The benefits of walking include but are not limited to:
v Reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, breast and colon cancer, and high blood pressure
v Gives you more energy
v Helps your heart and lungs work more efficiently and improves circulation
v Helps build and maintain bones, muscles, and joints
v Helps you cope with stress and depression
v Lowers total cholesterol and increases good cholesterol
v Tones and strengthens your muscles
v Improves your sleep habits
v Helps maintain a healthy weight/ helps with weight loss programs
v Provides companionship walking with someone for individuals who live alone
(Thank you Boston Steps for above benefits!)
Turns out that forming a walking club is not such a hard endeavor and in fact there are websites that assist by promoting walking kits and walking information like the Boston Steps: www.bphc.org/bostonsteps . America Walks (americawalks.org) has a national vision statement for a Walkable America that “By 2020 walking in everyday life is embraced across America.”. Communities can register existing trails here in Maine on the Healthy Maine Walks website and others or could get help building a trail or walking route through the resources on www.healtymainewalks.com/createaroute.php such as the American Hiking Society www.americanhiking.org . You do not have to reinvent the wheel. There are existing clubs for biking, walking, skiing, etc. but not in every town and some are just too far away to participate in on a regular basis.
There is even a weekend here in Maine called the Great Maine Outdoor Weekend, www.greatmaineoutdoorweekend.org on March 3rd and 4th, 2012. In honor of this weekend and in order to kick off our quest, Waldoboro and Healthy Lincoln County will host a Walk on March 3rd from 9:30AM-11AM on our very own Neil Lash Nature Trail at the Medomak Valley High School here in Waldoboro. The trail is over a mile long with sculptures, benches, a beautiful bridge and art donated and or made by the students and the community. There will be water, hot cider and snacks and gift bags. Medomak Valley Land Trust will be available to talk about other existing trails in Waldoboro and there will be information at the refreshment table about the formation of a walking club for our region. Our next meeting is scheduled for March 23, 2012 at the Downeast School of Massage at 3:30PM and all are welcome.
Together, a community can take steps to add awareness for more physical activity and the need to invest in our children’s health (as well as in adults!) now rather than waiting until they are adults when they will have to deal with a life-long condition or disease. Prevention is worth a pound of cure! Dust off those hiking shoes and join us in our walk on March 3rd or just go for a walk yourself or with a friend. All our roads can lead to health!
(This project to create a walking club is a community effort with members from our schools, the recreation department, members of the Waldoboro Business Association, and interested individuals. Incorporating area events adds to the life of the idea of a walking club. Anyone interested in this effort can contact Nancy Dail at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 832-5531.)