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Posted April 7, 2009 | Copyright © The Northern Virginia Daily
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Steps to better health
By Stacey Keenan -- Daily Staff Correspondent
WINCHESTER -- When it comes to living a healthy lifestyle, sometimes it's easier said than done. Between expensive gym memberships, waiting for a spin on a stationary bike or even just finding the time in a hectic schedule, maintaining a regular exercise regimen can be costly and time-consuming.
But it doesn't have to be. According to the American Heart Association, just 30 minutes of walking a day offers numerous health benefits, including reducing the risk of coronary heart disease, improving blood pressure and blood sugar levels, maintaining body weight, lowering the risk of obesity and reducing the risk of osteoporosis, breast and colon cancer and type 2 diabetes.
The Frederick County Parks and Recreation Department offers a fun way to stay motivated and keep walking with its 100 Mile Club.
"The idea is just to get [people] out and moving at their own pace. We promote it as 10 miles a week, and in 10 weeks you have 100 miles. But most people can't, that's too much. Even if they only do five or 10 minutes of walking a day, that's better than nothing. It's to get them out and get moving and get healthy," says Stacy Herbaugh, facilities coordinator for Frederick County Parks and Recreation.
The 100 Mile Club was organized in the summer of 2007 as a walking club.
"We advertised that we were going to do it, and we had the first night, and probably 30 to 40 people came, and we took a walk through the park," says Herbaugh.
Now, there are nearly 100 people signed up for the club. Some members are more active than others, says Herbaugh. And, while most of the members are walkers, many others are runners.
"Those who are very active, who I hear from on a weekly basis, are about 30. Those who are inactive, in terms of hearing from them once in a while, are about 10 to 20 additional [people]. Some I haven't heard from in a while," she says. "We have some people who run 80 miles in a week, and others who just walk a little bit. I've had reports from 2 miles [a week] to 50 miles or more."
While the club is primarily a walking club, any physical activity can count toward a person's weekly mileage, including exercise classes and riding a bicycle, she adds.
About four times a year, club members get together for a group walk. Herbaugh organizes the walks, and while the group utilizes trails in local parks on occasion, she tends to keep the group outings on tracks because of their hard, flat surfaces.
"I try to be cognizant of the folks coming out. We have a lot of people with knee problems and that type of thing, so nothing too strenuous," Herbaugh says. "We have a variety of people, from very young to the elderly. We have some who hit the treadmill every day religiously and some who it's an effort to get out, but they make the effort."
The club is open to anyone. While the majority of club members are from Winchester and Frederick County, there are members from Shenandoah and Warren counties as well as West Virginia.
Betty and Andy Landrum, of Frederick County, have been regular walkers for about 15 years, and have been members of the club since its inception.
"We walk year-round, and we have a goal of [walking] two miles a day. Now, we try to do seven days a week," says Mrs. Landrum.
While the Landrums haven't participated in a lot of group walks, they have done a few, including a Christmas-time walk at Clearbrook Park, one at Sherando High School and one that traveled from Sherando High School across Va. 277 to the walking trail and back to Sherando Park.
"I think the contact with other people is one of the best things about the club. Even though you're not walking with them every day, you know everybody's doing the same thing, and at some point, you come together and compare notes a little bit," Mrs. Landrum says.
The Landrums walk in a variety of environments throughout the year. During nice weather, they walk in their neighborhood or at Sherando Park. When the weather turns sour, they head to Apple Blossom Mall in Winchester or to the treadmills at the Community Center at Sherando High School.
The couple says they enjoy the time they spend together while they're walking, and the health benefits are one of the main reasons they continue the exercise program. They come pretty close to reaching their goal of two miles in 30 minutes every day, they say.
"[Walking] is something that is sort of habit-forming. When you do it long enough, your day doesn't seem complete unless you have had that walk," says Mr. Landrum.
For more information or to join the 100 Mile Club, contact the Frederick County Parks and Recreation Department at 665-5678 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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