Seniors walk their way to fitness

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When all the fair goers have gone home, there is a new crowd that takes over the Brigden Agricultural buildings – walkers.
About 55 retirees head out to Brigden from November to April to stay in shape in the cold winter months.
But Mona May Thompson says they’re not just circling the building. She leads the Walk Fitness group – one of five around the county.
“We don’t let them just walk,” says Thompson noting the program is aimed at raising the heart rate and building muscle.
The seniors stretch out and use balls to improve their coordination and balance as well as tone muscles. Thompson says it also “stimulates the brain.
“When you get older your brain has to say this arm goes out here and this leg goes up there a little more,” she says.
And each exercise has a practical use like building muscle strength to get up and down the stairs or doing squats so they can get off the coach easily.
And while the goal is to remain active, Thompson and Marion Clouse from the West Lambton Family Health Team which runs the program, say it is also a social time. The “walkers” laugh and joke during the Tuesday and Thursday morning work outs and often you can find them at the local coffee shop after the session. “This is very much a social program,” says Clouse noting people come to Bridgen from as far away as Petrolia and Oil Springs to take part.
And while the social aspect is great, Thompson knows she’s improving her health. In the time she has been leading the group she has lost weight and for the first time since she was diagnosed, she’s been taken off her diabetes medication.
Thompson says the Walk Fitness worked for her when another program would not have.
“I knew I would not do well at a gym and I like to walk.”